Mastermind of Disastrous Fyre Festival Settles With SEC

(Bloomberg) -- The architect of the disastrous 2017 Fyre Festival luxury concert series in the Bahamas settled civil claims with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, admitting he defrauded more than 100 investors of $27.4 million.

Billy McFarland, 26, has pleaded guilty to related criminal charges and faces as long as 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced Aug. 16. As part of the SEC settlement, he agreed to disgorge the amount of the fraud and to a lifetime ban on serving as a corporate officer or director.

McFarland was separately charged in June with scamming at least 15 people out of $100,000, including some who’d been duped by the Fyre Festival. He claimed to have tickets to high-profile events like the Super Bowl but failed to deliver them, prosecutors said. He pleaded not guilty to the new charges.

In addition to McFarland, the SEC sued two of his companies, Fyre Media Inc. and Magnises Inc., and two former employees.

McFarland’s 2017 festival began with promises of music and luxury and descended into a chaos of badly constructed tents, cold cheese sandwiches and a lack of sufficient bathrooms. He pleaded guilty in March to two counts of wire fraud, telling a judge that he “grossly underestimated the resources that would be necessary to hold an event of this magnitude.”

The festival, which McFarland organized with rap star Ja Rule, was to feature bands including Blink-182 and take place over two weekends. It collapsed at the last minute, with people stuck on the island left to chronicle the lack of preparations on social media and to find their own way home.

The case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. McFarland, 18-cv-06634, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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