Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sommet Group execs must turn over assets

A Nashville bankruptcy judge has ordered principals of Sommet Group LLC to turn over any assets or records of the financial services company in their possession to a trustee appointed by the court in the wake of an FBI raid earlier this year.
The assets in question include several vehicles, computer hard drives and $250,000 that Sommet's co-managing partner, Brian Whitfield, may have taken out of Sommet's bank account as FBI agents raided the firm's Franklin offices two months ago.

Whitfield's possible withdrawal is among allegations included in a lawsuit filed as part of bankruptcy proceedings by a trustee whose duty is to recover funds on behalf of creditors.

Federal investigators are looking into whether Sommet executives misappropriated clients' funds while handling medical claims, 401(k) retirement accounts and payroll taxes on their behalf.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Keith Lundin ordered Whitfield and his wife, Marsha, Sommet's vice president of payroll, to testify before the trustee on Thursday.

Friday's court order also blocks them from using assets or destroying records of four other Sommet-related companies that have come under the scrutiny of trustee Samuel Crocker.

Crocker has sued the Whitfields; Edward Todd, Sommet's other co-managing partner; and the four related companies as he tries to recover money.

Earlier this summer, after the FBI raided Sommet's headquarters, three clients pushed Sommet into bankruptcy, saying they wanted to collect debts via a fair and equitable process.

Sommet, which has folded as a company, once had its brand name attached to the downtown Nashville sports arena under a past licensing agreement that gave the low-key management company a citywide profile that has now been tarnished by the federal inquiry.

Other Sommet-related companies listed as co-defendants are IT Xpress Solutions LLC, EMG Communications LLC, BrandCentrik Inc., and Sommet Insurance and Risk Management LLC.

No one has been charged with a crime.

The total of Sommet's assets remains unclear although the trustee asked for no less than $10 million plus interest, attorney's fees and other amounts based on a breach of fiduciary duties by the Whitfields and other defendants named in the lawsuit.

Getahn Ward can be reached at 615-726-5968 or at

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