The Maryland Insurance Administration ordered Everest Wealth Management Inc. and its owner to pay a $62,400 fine this week.
The insurance regulator's action follows its own investigation and an action by Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh attempt in June seeking to shut down the Towson financial services business, which sells insurance products such as fixed index annuities.
Frosh accused Everest of fraudulently misrepresenting the risks of its investment strategy and sought to bar Philippe Rousseaux, owner of Everest Wealth Management and Everest Investment Advisors Inc., from offering investment services in the state.
Rousseaux countered that the Attorney General unfairly targeted his business and filed a lawsuit in August alleging it violated his rights.
The latest salvo from the Maryland Insurance Administration is another attempt to "weaken" Everest the week before it has a court hearing on that lawsuit, said Alex J. Brown, an attorney with Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler that represents Everest.
"By the time we get to litigate this, Everest will be severely harmed," Brown said. "I think the timing is suspect."
The Maryland Insurance Administration alleged Everest used misleading language in infomercials and on the Internet and "blurred lines between Everest Wealth Management, an insurance agency, and Everest Investment Advisors, manipulating prospects with 'mind games' in order to obtain business." It also took action against several other Everest employees.
Brown said Everest is entitled to a hearing on the Insurance Administration action, which it intends to pursue. Everest will remain in business while the matters are settled in court, he said.
The firm is known for televised infomercials promoting Rousseaux and his team as "The Money Guys" and a show on 105.7 The FAN. It also sponsors Baltimore Orioles radio broadcasts on WJZ-FM.