July 6, 2006                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton


      Minnesota agent faces multiple allegations of insurance and securities fraud
      Montana State Auditor, John Morrison, has taken legal action to end the alleged fraudulent activities of Minnesota insurance agent, Bart Murnion. Morrison issued separate Cease and Desist Orders prohibiting Murnion from further violating the Montana Securities Act and the Montana Insurance Code, as well as suspending his current Montana insurance producer’s license. This order is based on multiple allegations of insurance fraud, and deceptive and illegal sales practices.
      “Fraud is a serious matter and deceptive business people need to know that Montana has zero tolerance for fraudulent dealings,” said Morrison. “Before making any investment Montanans are urged to check with the State Auditor’s Office to confirm that the investment does not violate Montana law.”
      Morrison earlier issued an order that permanently bans Murnion and Murnion’s wife from applying for licensing in Montanan’s securities industry. This order resulted from a consent agreement that arose from charges of securities fraud, wherein the securities department alleged Murnion and his wife borrowed money from a client.
      Responding to complaints from Montana customers, Morrison’s office conducted an investigation. As a result of that investigation it appears that Murnion told Montana investors that he was a Certified Senior Advisor working with a company called Sentinel Financial, LLC. He allegedly told the investors that he offered an annuity product through Allianz Life and that the product was guaranteed by the State of Montana, indicating that the investors’ money would not be at risk with such a guarantee. Murnion also allegedly told investors he charged a $1,500 fee for his services. Murnion is not authorized to sell an annuity product in Montana, he is not authorized to sell products for Allianz Life, and it is a fraudulent misrepresentation and deceptive business practice to offer guarantees on investments or to indicate that Montana provides such a guarantee.
      In the earlier securities department complaint, Murnion was accused of telling investors that they could earn a higher rate of return on their investments by lending their money to Murnion and his wife through a promissory note. According to evidence provided to the Securities Department, Murnion apparently convinced the investors that their money would be used for a business expansion. However, no business expansion occurred and the Murnions declared bankruptcy. In addition to making untrue statements, the Securities Department accused Murnion of selling an unregistered security in the form of the promissory note. As a result of these fraudulent activities, the brokerage firm that employed Murnion at the time he borrowed his client’s money, repaid the investors the majority of their money. Murnion moved to another brokerage and terminated his securities registration in Montana on or about January of 2004. Murnion is currently not licensed in any capacity in Montana’s securities industry.
      “I encourage any resident who thinks they have been offered a questionable investment to contact my office at 1-800-332-6148. We rely on these customer reports to find and take action against individuals who violate Montana’s consumer protection laws,” said Morrison.