A Colorado federal judge Thursday rebuked regulators and Invesco for failing to reach a swift settlement over charges that the mutual fund firm coordinated an improper trading scheme, Rocky Mountain News reports.
"The court is concerned about whats happening in this case," U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham said at a hearing. "Up until this point, this has been handled with what I would characterize as benign neglect."
Both sides are close to an agreement but are unable to agree on a dollar amount, the Rocky Mountain News said, citing an SEC attorney.
"Were fairly close to a resolution, but were not quite there yet," Robert Fusfeld, the SECs chief regional trial counsel, reportedly told the judge. He attributed the delay to "significant new evidence" uncovered in April and March but failed to discuss the details of the new information.
In December, state and federal regulators filed civil fraud charges against Invesco and former CEO Ray Cunningham, alleging they allowed preferred clients to market time Invescos mutual funds to the detriment of long-term shareholders. The Denver-based fund shop initially planned to fight the allegations "vigorously" but later rescinded and agreed to cooperate with regulators.
Since then, the negotiation process has dragged on for months with each side requesting more time to evaluate their case. In June, the SEC announced that it was adding new defendants and further charges. Senior executives Thomas Kolbe and Tim Miller were named but not charged in the original complaint. Money Management Executive previously reported that the additional defendant is an Invesco portfolio manager.
Nottingham criticized the SEC for dragging its feet, the newspaper said.
"I dont understand," he said. "Its been eight months. Why cant you resolve this in eight months? You have the entire U.S. government at your disposal. Im asking you, why are you at my doorstep asking for more time?"
Despite the harsh words, the judge granted the SEC an extra 20 days to file an amended complaint against Invesco, less they reach an agreement ahead of that date.