Bay Area developer strikes deal in SEC fraud case

SAN JOSE — A Bay Area developer who is the key figure in a federal fraud case has struck a deal with U.S. regulators that could help pave a path for investors in his projects to recoup some of the money they placed with him, court papers show.

Developer Sanjeev Acharya and his real estate firm Silicon Sage Builders have reached a partial settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in a fraud case, according to an order issued March 24 by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston.

Issues with Acharya’s Bay Area real estate business came to light in December when the SEC filed wide-ranging allegations of fraud against Acharya and Silicon Sage Builders.

In February, a federal court authorized a receiver to seize control of Acharya’s properties and business operations with the goal of potential sales of some or all of the assets to help pay back investors and creditors.

An estimated 250 people who paid about $119 million to invest in projects launched by Acharya and Silicon Sage Builders face the prospect of losing their money, according to the SEC.

Through the partial settlement with the SEC, both Acharya and the SEC are attempting to clear the decks in the case to help assist the investors.

“This is a settlement agreement in which Mr. Acharya does not admit or deny the SEC’s allegations,” according to a statement released by his attorney, John Hemann of Cooley LLP, a Palo Alto-based international law firm.

In the coming months, the focus is expected to shift towards how Acharya can assist the court-appointed receiver to handle and possibly sell off part or all of his Bay Area real estate empire to raise cash that could help pay back investors.

“Mr. Acharya wishes to focus all of his efforts on supporting and working collaboratively with the receiver and the SEC to deliver value to Silicon Sage investors,” according to the statement Acharya’s attorney provided. “This settlement allows him to concentrate on that priority in the weeks and months ahead.”

One early sign emerged recently that at least some of Acharya’s real estate properties could generate profits if they are sold.

A few days ago, the court authorized the sale of an Acharya-owned Hayward townhouse on B Street for $949,000. After payment of real estate commissions and mechanic’s liens on the property, the net proceeds from the transaction are expected to be $498,000, the receiver estimated.

Still, plenty of challenges could complicate the disposition of the Silicon Sage and Acharya real estate properties.

In multiple instances, lenders have filed notices of default on mortgages for the properties in an attempt to seize the sites through a foreclosure.