The SEC’s enforcement action comes at a time when the agency has been focusing more specifically on brokers’ and advisers’ interactions with senior investors, and others investing for retirement, through the ReTIRE initiative of the agency’s national exam program and the work of the Broker-Dealer Task Force in its Enforcement Division.
On August 10, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that it has obtained a final judgment against Louis Martin Blazer III, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based financial adviser, accused of taking money without permission from the accounts of several professional athletes in order to invest in movie projects and make Ponzi-like payments and then lying to SEC examiners who uncovered the unauthorized withdrawals.
The final judgment, entered by consent on August 4, 2017, by the Honorable J. Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, permanently enjoins Louis Martin Blazer III from violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Section 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and orders him to pay approximately $1.8 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest and a civil money penalty of $150,000. On May 18, 2016, the court entered a partial judgment by consent and Louis Martin Blazer III agreed to the entry of an SEC order, based on the partial judgment, imposing a permanent industry bar. Read More
On July 31, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) charged four former Atlanta-area brokers with fraudulently inducing federal employees to roll over holdings from their federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) retirement accounts into higher-fee, variable annuity products.
On August 2, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced fraud and other charges against two individuals and John Thomas Financial, a related company, for their roles in a manipulative trading scheme involving Liberty Silver Corp., a penny stock.
The SEC’s complaint, filed on August 1, 2017 in federal district court in New York, alleges that, Robert Genovese, a Canadian citizen, his company, B.G. Capital Group, Ltd. and Abraham Mirman, the former head of investment banking at now-defunct New York broker-dealer John Thomas Financial, Inc. (JTF), were involved in a scheme concerning Liberty Silver in which Genovese sought to increase dramatically the company’s share price and volume and sell millions of shares into the market. According to the SEC’s complaint, between August and October 2012, Genovese schemed with Mirman to sell Liberty Silver shares to John Thomas Financial’s customers in part by agreeing to loan $2 million indirectly to JTF without disclosing the loan to the customers. The complaint alleges that Genovese also touted Liberty Silver in newspaper articles while failing to disclose that he had paid for the articles, that he was dumping millions of shares of Liberty Silver stock, and the financial arrangements between himself and John Thomas Financial. It further alleged that Genovese engaged in manipulative trading on a particular day, increasing Liberty Silver’s share price and creating the false appearance of liquidity and demand for Liberty Silver stock. Read More
On July 24, 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that it has obtained a final judgment against Andrew Farmer, whom the SEC charged with orchestrating a pump-and-dump scheme involving a company that purportedly developed revolutionary technology to enable environmentally friendly oil and gas production.
The final judgment, entered on July 18, 2017 by the Honorable Keith P. Ellison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, orders Andrew Farmer to pay approximately $7.2 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest and a civil penalty of approximately $2 million. The final judgment also permanently enjoins Andrew Farmer from violating Sections 5 and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5(a) and (c) thereunder and imposes permanent penny stock and officer-and-director bars. Read More
On July 31, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that on July 28, 2017, an Illinois federal court entered a final judgment against Defendant Stephen Ferrone following an April 2016 jury verdict in the Commission’s favor. The final judgment prohibits Stephen Ferrone, retroactively to July 24, 2016, from serving as an officer or director of a public company for a period of three (3) years. The final judgment also requires Stephen Ferrone to pay a $120,000 civil penalty.
The Commission charged Stephen Ferrone and other defendants in August 2011, alleging, among other things, that Stephen Ferrone made materially false and misleading statements during 2007-2010 regarding the status of regulatory approvals for Immunosyn’s sole product, a drug referred to as “SF-1019.” The Commission’s complaint alleged that Stephen Ferrone falsely stated in public filings with the Commission and in other presentations that Argyll Biotechnologies, LLC, Immunosyn’s controlling shareholder, planned to commence the regulatory approval process for human clinical trials for SF-1019 in the U.S. or that the regulatory approval process was underway. The complaint alleged that these statements deceived investors because the statements failed to disclose that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had issued clinical holds on drug applications for SF-1019, which prohibited clinical trials involving SF-1019 from occurring. Read More
On July 27, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) charged Halliburton Company with violating the books and records and internal accounting controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) while selecting and making payments to a local company in Angola in the course of winning lucrative oilfield services contracts.
Halliburton, which profited by approximately $14 million from the deals, has agreed to pay more than $29.2 million to settle the SEC’s case. The company also agreed to obtain an independent compliance consultant to oversee its anti-corruption policies and procedures in Africa. Halliburton’s former vice president Jeannot Lorenz has agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty for causing the company’s violations, circumventing internal accounting controls, and falsifying books and records.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced the temporary suspension of trading in the securities of Medicus Homecare Inc. (MDCR) commencing at 9:30 a.m. EDT on July 28, 2017 and terminating at 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 10, 2017.
The Commission temporarily suspended trading in the securities of Medicus Homecare due to a lack of current and accurate information about the company because it has not filed certain periodic reports with the Commission. Read More
On July 28, 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced the temporary suspension of trading in the securities of CNK Global, Inc. (a/k/a American Life Holding Co., Inc.) (ALFE) commencing at 9:30 a.m. EDT on July 28, 2017, and terminating at 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 10, 2017.
The Commission temporarily suspended trading in the securities of the CNK Global due to a lack of current and accurate information about the company because it has not filed certain periodic reports with the Commission. This order was entered pursuant to Section 12(k) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act). Read More
On July 25, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) charged Interactive Media Solutions, LLC and its sole principal John Giunti with perpetuating a securities offering fraud.
According to the SEC’s complaint, IMS claimed to have developed a mobile phone application that could send money from a cellphone. The complaint alleges that from July 2015 through November 2016, IMS and Giunti raised nearly half a million dollars from more than 20 investors and had plans to raise an additional $5 million with hopes of a possible IPO. To lure investors, John Giunti allegedly told them that investor funds would be spent for business purposes, IMS had positive cash flow, and IMS had a business partnership with Google and offices at its Los Angeles location. The SEC alleges that all of these statements were false. In reality, as alleged in the complaint, instead of using investor funds as represented for business purposes, IMS and John Giunti used investor funds for John Giunti’s retail purchases, large cash withdrawals, private-school tuition for his children, luxury vacations, and political contributions. Moreover, IMS allegedly had no revenue from operations, nor did it have any connection with Google. Rather, as alleged in the complaint, IMS was based at Giunti’s home and a San Diego business center. Read More
On July 26, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced fraud charges against Joey Dodson, the founder of a collection of businesses known as Citadel Energy, which provided fluid management solutions to the oil and gas industry in North Dakota.
According to the SEC’s complaint, from approximately November 2012 through December 2014, Joey Dodson, of Porter Ranch, California, made numerous material misstatements and statements that were materially misleading as a result of omissions to investors. As described in the complaint, Joey Dodson misled investors regarding, among other things, his compensation arrangements, the intended use of investor proceeds, the status of an important land lease agreement, the ownership of certain assets or income streams, and prior litigation against himself. The SEC alleges that, most significantly, Dodson commingled funds among three ventures funded by separate investor groups and then misappropriated at least $1.7 million from investors for his personal benefit, including for large cash payments to himself and his family members, Ponzi-like payments to prior investors in unrelated projects, casino vacations, lease payments for a BMW automobile, and psychic readings and spiritual products. As a result of Dodson’s alleged misconduct, approximately 50 investors suffered substantial, and in some cases total, losses. Read More