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After Apparent Suicide, Austin Financial Advisor Investigated

Financial advisor S. Mark Powell ran the Austin office of money management firm Atlantic Trust until his death on May 16.

Powell's body was found in a cemetery in Mason County, where the cause of death has not been determined.  Sheriff Buster Nixon says that a final ruling will be made after toxicology tests come back, but that "everything (he's) seen is consistent with a self-inflicted wound."

Powell's employer became suspicious about investments that it says were outside of his work with the firm.  An Atlantic Trust spokesperson said in a statement: "Following Mark Powell's death, we became aware of unusual transactions Mr. Powell seems to have conducted personally outside of his work for Atlantic Trust.  We advised the authorities.  We have no reason to believe that client accounts were accessed."

U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman confirmed today that "we do have an open investigation" into Powell's affairs.  He did not have further comment, and said that it could take some time to complete the investigation.

A Boca Raton law firm, Klayman & Toskes, has put out a press release soliciting people who may have invested with Powell.  The firm represents investors in civil prosecutions and settlements against the financial services industry.  According to Klayman & Toskes, Powell solicited personal loans from "dozens" of clients, promising a return of nine percent. 

According to the firm, "multiple millions of dollars are allegedly at stake, involving numerous investors from Austin, Houston, Dallas, and other areas of Texas."

The Austin American-Statesman reports that Powell's loans were solicited from a wealthy, elite client base that trusted him because of his professional position, his community involvement, and a pedigree that includes a  wealthy, well-known Dallas family, and an economics degree from Baylor University.

The Statesman also reports that the American Bank of Commerce has filed suit against Powell's employer, claiming that he owes the bank more than a million dollars from a promissory note.

Powell was a board member of the Children's Medical Center Foundation of Central Texas, which raises money for Dell Children's hospital.  Until this month, he was also treasurer of the group.  Seton Foundations CEO Ken Gladish says the foundation does not think that Powell invested any of its funds.

"We have reviewed our records and confirmed that there are no Seton/CMCF investments in the investment fund overseen by Mark Powell," Gladish says .He adds that "volunteer officers do not have direct control over investments, and the Foundation does not invest directly in or with firms controlled by trustees."

Powell, a husband and father of three, lived in Austin's Tarrytown neighborhood, in a home valued at more than $3 million.