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SEC says former Oppenheimer manager inflated results

NEW YORK — Federal securities regulators Tuesday accused a former portfolio manager at Oppenheimer & Co. of misleading investors about the performance of a fund, a rare enforcement action involving the private equity industry.

The Securities and Exchange Commission contends that Brian Williamson issued quarterly reports and marketing materials that inflated the performance results of an Oppenheimer private equity fund.

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In March, Oppenheimer agreed to pay $2.8 million to resolve its role in the case. But Williamson is fighting the charges.

The SEC’s asset-management unit, which brought the Oppenheimer case, has stepped up its focus on the private equity business. In January, Bruce Karpati, the head of the enforcement division’s asset-management unit, said he was concerned that firms could be propping up returns to impress investors and potential clients.

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