The Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly planning to launch an enforcement action against Empire Financial Holding Co. and its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Gagne. Empire, which confirmed receiving a Wells notice of forthcoming regulatory enforcement, has a small window of time to construct a response before the SEC commits to a course of action. Gagne has recently taken an unpaid leave of absence until the matter is resolved.
The SEC's notice stems from Empire's practice of trading mutual funds on behalf of its high-net-worth clients. After an internal investigation in November, Empire acknowledged placing mutual fund trades after 4 p.m. and engaging in improper market-timing practices. Empire has since stopped trading mutual fund shares for its customers.