A formerly well-connected, Seattle-area financial advisor and former chairman of advisory software developer Tamarac Inc., now finds himself at the center of a federal fraud and money laundering investigation after FBI agents raided his home several weeks ago.
According to a federal court search warrant, Mark Spangler, former president and chief executive officer of The Spangler Group, is suspected of committing mail and wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering.
The Seattle-based Spangler Group, according to media reports, had allegedly tricked clients into investing in startup technology companies that proved to be troubled and that Spangler himself had managed.
Those firms collapsed soon after, losing investors about $46 million. The Spangler Group was forced to file for receivership in bankruptcy court earlier this year, according to reports. The number to the firm’s office was not in service.
It is still unclear whether Spangler has been arrested or formerly charged for the alleged abuses. Clerks for the U.S. Attorney’s office and federal court, both in Seattle, were unable to verify that prosecutors had opened cases against Spangler or his firm. As of Thursday afternoon, the SEC had yet to file any charges against Spangler, according to a representative.
The investigation could derail Spangler’s once flourishing career in financial planning.
Tamarac chairman and chief executive officer Stuart DePina said Spangler’s troubles have not affected the firm. It is not the target of any investigation in any jurisdiction, DePina said.
“We got wind of certain allegations from his clients, that there were some concerns,” DePina said in a telephone interview. “We removed him as chairman in February.”
Spangler was instrumental in Tamarac’s early stages, DePina said. He provided counsel for certain strategic initiatives at the time. Although Tamarac is not one of the biggest companies in the advisory technology business today, it is an emerging presence, according to industry professionals. It has about 450 advisor clients, compared with some 3,000 clients at competitor Advent.
The company, though, has matured past the startup phase and no longer relied on Spangler for consulting or support. It achieved 50% growth per year over the last five years, and expects to maintain that momentum through 2012.
On Wednesday, the company announced that it had been named to the 2011 Microsoft Dynamic President’s Club for its Advisor CRM solution. The award is presented to the top 5% of Microsoft Dynamics partners worldwide.
“They’ve done a great job of integrating rebalancing, CRM, and portfolio management, so data passes back and forth,” said Timothy Welsh, president of Nexus Strategy in Larkspur, Calf.
Spangler had also been chairman of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, or NAPFA.
Several attempts to reach The Spangler Group, as well as Mark Spangler and his attorney, Ronald J. Friedman, were unsuccessful.
Before the firm fell apart, The Spangler Group had been a fee-based registered investment advisory firm specializing in venture capital firms. By the end of last year, the firm had $106 million in assets under management, according to the firm’s Form ADV Part 2A filed last March.
As for the allegations now swirling around Spangler, at least one former Tamarac colleague says he’s stunned.
“It was shocking, to be honest,” DePina said. “We were very much in disbelief about it.”