A Texas energy mogul known in the media as the “frack master” allegedly carried out an elaborate $80 million fraud scheme to fund his extravagant lifestyle, including a penchant for strippers, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to the SEC, Breitling Energy Corporation CEO Chris Faulkner and seven others at his company allegedly defrauded investors by giving them misleading information and manipulating Breitling’s stock. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Dallas, accused Faulkner of misappropriating “at least $30 million in investor funds to maintain a lifestyle of decadence and debauchery.”
Those millions in investor funds allegedly went towards Faulkner’s personal expenses, including international travel, cars, jewelry and opulent meals. The SEC charged that the fracking mogul even obtained what he referred to as a “whore card”—an American Express used exclusively for these “salacious” purchases—to shield his personal spending and expense reimbursements from the rest of the company.
Faulkner allegedly used that card to charge more than $1 million in personal travel, expenses for personal escorts and nights out on the town, according to the suit. In one four-day period in July 2014, the SEC alleged, he spent nearly $40,000 at a single Dallas gentleman’s club.
Larry Friedman, Faulkner’s attorney, told local ABC affiliate WFAA on Friday that his client had done nothing wrong, saying he was “not aware of any complaints by investors.” He said the company was “fully cooperating” with the SEC.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the SEC suspended trading in Breitling stock on Wednesday. TPM’s multiple calls to the company’s Dallas office on Friday afternoon were met with a busy signal.
The unusually media-friendly oil and gas CEO was known for his frequent appearances on cable news, but he’d also emerged as a major conservative donor during his tenure at Breitling. The Texas Observer reported that he gave almost $300,000 to state candidates, putting $87,500 towards Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s (R) campaign and $100,000 towards Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton’s bid.
Read the SEC’s lawsuit in full below: