SEC Obtains Final Judgment Against Former Owner of California Film Distribution Company Charged with Defrauding Publicly Traded Fund

On November 25, 2022, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a final consent judgment against William Sadleir, the former Beverly Hills owner of a defunct film distribution company accused of defrauding a publicly traded fund out of at least $13.8 million.

The SEC’s complaint, filed on May 22, 2020, alleged that BlackRock Multi-Sector Income Trust (BIT), a registered closed-end management investment company, invested approximately $75 million in Aviron Group LLC, a film distribution company Sadleir founded, owned, and operated. The complaint alleged that Sadleir represented that the investments would be used to support the company’s distribution of films. Contrary to these representations, Sadleir allegedly used a sham company as a vehicle to fraudulently divert and misappropriate BIT funds and issued fake invoices seeking additional BIT funds for services that were never provided. Sadleir allegedly used the funds to pay personal expenses, including his purchase, furnishing, and renovation of a Beverly Hills mansion. In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filed criminal charges against Sadleir in connection with similar conduct. United States v. William Sadleir, No. 20-cr-0320 (S.D.N.Y. filed May 22, 2020).

Source: William Sadleir (Release No. LR-25581; Nov. 29, 2022)