Shell Traffickers Guilty in $137 Million Corporate Hijacking Scheme
Lawrence Hartman, a Florida securities lawyer, plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for his role in a Corporate Hijacking and shell trafficking fraud scheme that swindled victims out of more than $137,000,000.
According to the charges, the defendants in the case planned to steal the identities of dormant, publicly-traded shell companies, use the corporate identities they had stolen to create fraudulent empty-shell companies which had the appearance of being publicly-traded, and sell those fraudulent empty-shell companies for use in reverse merger transactions. Those involved in corporate hijacking schemes employ various methods to illegally obtain control of public shell companies.
The most widespread and most abusive practice involves complicit securities lawyers who stage or assist others in staging bogus state court receivership and custodianship proceedings to gain control of dormant public companies in shell trafficking schemes. Upon obtaining control of the hijacked entity, fraudsters profit by selling the public vehicle for use in a reverse merger transaction.
All four of the companies featured in the corporate hijacking indictment – Mobilestream Oil, Inc. (MSRM; formerly 3E International, Inc.); Regaltech, Inc. (formerly Pacific Chemical, Inc.; now Asante Networks, Inc; ASTN); Nanoforce, Inc. (NNFC; formerly Webgalaxy, Inc.); and Rocky Mountain Gold Mining, Inc. (formerly Greensmart Corporation) – were sold to or through Lawrence S. Hartman and ultimately used in connection with a sophisticated investment fraud and money laundering scheme. The administrative and money laundering functions of the scheme were headquartered in Pinellas County, Florida.
Earlier this year Hartman, who used the aliases Larry Hartman, Larry Hart, and Lawrence Scott Hartman-Grosser, was arrested on an immigration violation by Nicaraguan authorities and expelled and deported from Nicaragua and turned over to U.S. authorities.
To date, juries have found all of Hartman’s co-defendants in the scheme guilty, and another co-defendant pled guilty. On April 19, 2013, a federal jury found United Kingdom citizens Paul R. Gunter (64, Odessa, Florida; originally of London) and Simon Andrew Odoni (56, Hertfordshire, UK) guilty of three counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering, as well as nineteen counts of mail and wire fraud, and fourteen counts of money laundering. In March 2011, co-defendant Richard Sinclair Pope plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.
Hartman has not yet been sentenced. He faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000.
The convictions of all defendants in this case sends a clear message to all involved in corporate hijacking schemes that their days of stealing dormant public companies from their legitimate shareholders using bogus state court actions are numbered.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Tampa, Florida, as well as the U.S. Secret Service, Tampa, Florida and Newark, New Jersey Field Offices. The government received assistance from several other authorities, including the City of London Police, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office and Norfolk Constabulary, the Spanish National Police, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Ontario Securities Commission, and the British Columbia Securities Commission.
For further information about this securities law blog post, please contact Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney at 101 Plaza Real S, Suite 202 N, Boca Raton, Florida, (561) 416-8956, by email at [email protected] or visit www.securitieslawyer101.com. This securities law blog post is provided as a general informational service to clients and friends of Hamilton & Associates Law Group and should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal advice on any specific matter, nor does this message create an attorney-client relationship. Please note that the prior results discussed herein do not guarantee similar outcomes.
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Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney
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