by: Liz Moyer and Steven Russolillo
New York-based broker-dealer Direct Access Partners has closed its doors, said a person familiar with the matter, after allegations surfaced earlier this month of a multimillion dollar Venezuelan bribery scheme involving two of its traders. Goldman Sachs Execution & Clearing, the firm’s clearing agent, stopped accepting trades after that probe came to light on May 8, effectively shutting the firm down, the person said.
Robert Gottlieb, a criminal defense attorney from Gottlieb & Gordon, said Direct Access Partners received a grand-jury subpoena from federal prosecutors in Manhattan earlier this month related to the probe and that the firm is cooperating fully with the government. He said his firm was hired by Direct Access to conduct an internal investigation.
Earlier this month, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged the traders paid millions of dollars in bribes to a Venezuelan banking official to secure the bond trading business of a state-owned bank in that country. The SEC announced charges against four individuals in the alleged scheme, and federal prosecutors charged three people.
Founded in 2002, Direct Access Partners offered trading, prime services, capital markets and asset management. Ben Chinea, its co-founder and chief executive, wasn’t immediately available to comment.
This article was written by Liz Moyer and Steven Russolillo and originally published on wsj