Federal regulators filed a civil complaint Tuesday against a Massachusetts company and the firm's principal alleging that they defrauded investors of at least $9 million by promising high returns on investments in oil and natural gas leases.

The complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) further alleged that the company's principal, Howard Graham of Ontario, Canada, diverted approximately $3 million for personal expenses and for non-business payments to friends and family members.

Cheshire, MA-based Braintree Energy and Graham made "oral and written misrepresentations" to more than 200 investors nationwide and in foreign countries that they could expect to earn 500-900% on their oil and gas investments, "with little or no risk," according to the SEC complaint. The misrepresentations are alleged to have begun in 2000 and continued through 2006.

The complaint, which was filed in U.S. Court in Boston, accuses Braintree Energy and Graham of violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities law. The SEC is seeking a permanent injunction against Braintree Energy and Graham, an order of disgorgement of funds and civil penalties.

Efforts to contact Braintree Energy by telephone Friday were unsuccessful. The company's website said the company is no longer in business.

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