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Utah regulators are seeking to close a loophole in state law that has made it difficult to go after suspected high-profile fraud cases, including "Free Capitalist" Rick Koerber.

Currently, securities fraud investigations have been hampered as the targets have argued that they aren't covered by Utah's securities laws because their transactions include real estate.

SB151, sponsored by Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake City, and backed by the Utah Realtors Association, would close that loophole and make clear that securities laws could still apply.

The measure unanimously passed out of the Senate Business and Labor Committee on Tuesday.

Keith Woodwell, the director of the Utah Division of Securities, said the change would help prevent cases like the one involving Koerber, who has been indicted in federal court for allegedly running a $100 million Ponzi scheme that involved transfers of equity in real estate investments.

Another example where the change could come into play is the case of Bill Hammons, a St. George resident facing eight charges for selling millions of dollars worth of investments for VesCor, an Ogden company run by Val Southwick, who is serving a prison sentence for what is believed to be the largest fraud in Utah history.

Robert Gehrke

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