The way she tells it on her website, Delsa Thomas decided to launch her own investment firm after Citi Smith Barney, where she worked, merged with Morgan Stanley. She left in February 2011, taking a decade's worth of experience as a stockbroker and financial advisor to her new outfit, The D. Christopher Capital Management Group, and its flagship Solomon Fund.
The Securities and Exchange Commission gives a slightly different version of events. While at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Thomas had been steering clients toward certain high-yield investment vehicles that were, in the SEC's estimation, fraudulent. Investors lost a lot of money. Several sued. Thomas jumped ship before MSSB could fire her.
At D. Christopher Capital Management, Thomas promised large returns extremely quickly. She told a San Antonio real estate investor that she could turn his $1 million into $7.5 million in 35 business days. To a couple of Canadians, she promised a 10-percent return in 10 days. Another, from the European principality of Andorra, was promised his investment would double in 35 days.
She also convinced leaders at Irving's DFW New Beginnings Church, where Thomas is a member, to entrust her with $725,000.
Rather than deliver on her promises, however, Thomas "wasted the majority of the funds in a suspect transfer to a shadowy foreign company that may itself be carrying on a fraud, and spent the remaining monies in Ponzi payments and to cover personal expenses," according to a lawsuit filed against Thomas yesterday by the SEC.
The personal expenses included a $100,000 deposit into the bank account Thomas shares with her mother and $70,000 in payments to friends and relatives. All this from a hedge fund that was supposedly dedicated to "humanitarian causes."
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The SEC claims Thomas violated multiple provisions of federal securities law, mainly by lying to investors about her company's investments and by using new investors' money to make good on her promises to old ones.
Reached this morning at her office in Irving, Thomas said she hasn't yet seen the lawsuit and declined to address specifics but said she hasn't done any of the illegal things the SEC says she has.
"I can emphatically deny all the allegations. ... All I will go on record to say is simply this: The SEC is simply just making up lies and that's the bottom line. Period."
But according to the agency, Thomas has squandered $1.8 million of the $2.3 million in investments controlled by DCCM. She did partially repay her church, though the $330,000 she handed over was less than half the original investment. Otherwise, the SEC says, the company has virtually no money, certainly not enough to repay its investors.