This is a photo of the National Register of Historic Places listing with reference number 7000063

Saturday, July 25, 2015

3 FORMER OPPENHEIMER & CO. EMPLOYEES SETTLE SEC CHARGES RELATED TO UNREGISTERED SALES OF PENNY STOCKS

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
7/23/2015 12:35 PM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that three former employees of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. have agreed to settle charges stemming from the unregistered sales of billions of shares of penny stocks on behalf of a customer.  The actions involve a portion of the conduct announced in January in a settled enforcement action against Oppenheimer in which the broker-dealer admitted wrongdoing and paid $20 million to the SEC and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Today’s actions were instituted against Scott A. Eisler, a former registered representative at Oppenheimer’s branch in Boca Raton, Fla., his former branch manager and supervisor Arthur W. Lewis, and Lewis’s supervisor Robert Okin, a former head of Oppenheimer’s Private Client Division.

According to the SEC’s orders instituting settled administrative proceedings, on behalf of the Oppenheimer customer, Eisler executed billions of penny stock shares in illegal unregistered distributions with Lewis participating in and in some cases approving the sales.  Although securities laws provide an exemption from liability for brokers who engage in a reasonable inquiry into the facts surrounding a customer’s proposed sale, the SEC’s orders find that Eisler and Lewis failed to make the requisite inquiry despite substantial red flags associated with the sales.

The SEC’s orders found supervisory failures by Lewis and Okin because they did not respond to red flags that the individuals they supervised were violating federal securities laws.

“In the face of red flags that their customer’s stock sales were not exempt from registration, Oppenheimer’s branch personnel allowed these unregistered transactions to occur,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  “Okin, one of Oppenheimer’s senior-most executives, also failed to properly supervise by allowing these transactions to occur and failing to respond appropriately to the red flags suggesting violations of the federal securities laws.”

Scott W. Friestad, Associate Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, added, “These actions show the SEC’s resolve in holding responsible individuals, including senior managers, when they violate the securities laws.”

Eisler agreed to pay a $50,000 penalty and be barred from engaging in penny stock sales or working in the securities industry for at least one year.  Lewis agreed to pay a $50,000 penalty and be barred from working in a supervisory capacity in the securities industry for at least one year.  Okin agreed to pay a $125,000 penalty and be barred from working in a supervisory capacity in the securities industry for at least one year.  They each agreed to the settlements without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Margaret W. Smith with assistance from Christian Schultz and Matthew Scarlato.  The case was supervised by Nina B. Finston and Jan Folena.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Friday, July 24, 2015

SEC CHARGES THREE ALLEGED MICROCAP STOCK SCAMMERS

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
07/21/2015 02:30 PM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged a trio of alleged microcap stock scammers with defrauding investors by disseminating promotional e-mails exhorting readers to immediately buy purportedly hot stocks so they could secretly sell their own holdings at a substantial profit.

The SEC alleges that the three men, who live in Israel, obtained shares in several penny stock companies and pumped the prices as high as 1,800 percent before dumping the shares for at least $2.8 million in illicit proceeds.  In one extravagantly positive promotional e-mail about a particular stock, they stated that a $5,000 investment could be worth more than $250,000 in two years.  The men used numerous corporate identities and developed at least 20 different stock promotion websites to con investors into buying the stocks and causing the spikes in trading volume and share price that spurred their schemes.

The SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan names Joshua Samuel Aaron (aka Mike Shields), Gery Shalon (aka Phillipe Mousset and Christopher Engeham), and Zvi Orenstein (aka Aviv Stein and John Avery).  Aaron and Shalon allegedly wrote and designed the e-mails, Shalon allegedly disseminated them, and Orenstein allegedly provided essential operational support by handling brokerage accounts using numerous aliases.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York today announced criminal charges.

“These men allegedly manipulated the microcap market to make quick profits at the expense of unsuspecting investors, and they have been caught by law enforcement despite using aliases and other ploys in an attempt to cover their tracks,” said Andrew M. Calamari, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.

The SEC’s complaint charges Aaron, Sharon, and Orenstein with violating or aiding and abetting violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5.  The SEC is seeking to bar them from the penny stock business and obtain their ill-gotten gains plus interest and financial penalties.

The SEC’s investigation has been conducted by Kristine Zaleskas, Tim Nealon, Leslie Kazon, and Michael Paley of the Microcap Fraud Task Force along with Judith Weinstock of the New York office.  The litigation will be conducted by Paul Gizzi, Ms. Zaleskas, and Ms. Weinstock.  The case is being supervised by Sanjay Wadhwa.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

SEC CHARGES ATTORNEY WITH INSIDER TRADING IN ADVANCE OF MERGER ANNOUNCEMENT

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
07/16/2015 02:10 PM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged a Pennsylvania attorney with insider trading in the stock of Harleysville Group, Inc. in advance of the 2011 announcement of a $760 million merger of Harleysville and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Herbert K. Sudfeld illegally traded on the news that sent Harleysville’s stock price up 87 percent when the merger of the two insurance companies was announced in September 2011.  At the time, Sudfeld was a real estate partner at a law firm that advised Harleysville on the merger.  Sudfeld was not involved in the merger and learned that the announcement of it was imminent from a conversation between an attorney working on the transaction and their shared legal assistant.  Sudfeld allegedly stole the inside information and purchased Harleysville stock in his and his wife’s accounts.  Once the merger was announced, Sudfeld sold all the shares he had purchased, realizing approximately $79,000 of illegal profits.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania today announced criminal charges against Sudfeld.

“We allege that Sudfeld breached his duties of trust and confidence owed to his law firm when he misappropriated information about the merger to enrich himself,” said Daniel M. Hawke, Chief of the Division of Enforcement’s Market Abuse Unit.  “The Commission will continue to aggressively pursue attorneys and other professionals who abuse their access to confidential information.”

The SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Philadelphia names Sudfeld’s wife, Mary Jo Sudfeld, as a relief defendant for the purpose of recovering insider trading profits in her brokerage account through trades conducted by Sudfeld.  The complaint charges Sudfeld with violating antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and an SEC antifraud rule.  The SEC seeks a permanent injunction and financial penalties against Sudfeld and return of allegedly ill-gotten gains and prejudgment interest from Sudfeld and Mary Jo Sudfeld.

The SEC’s investigation has been conducted by Kelly L. Gibson, Assunta Vivolo and John Rymas of the SEC’s Market Abuse Unit in the Philadelphia Regional Office.  The case is being supervised by Mr. Hawke and G. Jeffrey Boujoukos.  The litigation will be led by David A. Axelrod and John V. Donnelly of the Philadelphia Office.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Monday, July 20, 2015

SEC CHARGES NON-REGISTERED INVESTMENT ADVISER WITH STEALING CLIENT'S MONEY

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
07/16/2015 02:05 PM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged a purported investment adviser in San Diego with stealing money from clients for personal use and conducting a Ponzi scheme to pay customers making redemption requests.

In a complaint filed in federal court in San Diego, the SEC alleges that Paul Lee Moore and Coast Capital Management, his purported investment advisory firm, raised $2.6 million from clients.  Instead of investing their money as promised, Moore allegedly siphoned nearly $2 million of client funds to pay travel expenses, buy retail goods, and fund his use of pornographic websites.  The complaint alleges that Moore used the remaining $625,000 in client funds to repay earlier clients with money from new clients in classic Ponzi scheme fashion.  Moore allegedly sent fake account statements to clients showing securities that he never purchased and attracted new clients when existing customers showed the statements to family, friends, and business associates.  Moore also is alleged to have lied to clients about his education, past employment experience, and the amount assets managed by Coast Capital.

Coast Capital, which was not registered as an investment adviser with the SEC or any state regulator, is no longer in business.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California today will announce criminal charges against Moore.

“As alleged in our complaint, Moore betrayed his clients, brazenly stole nearly $2 million for his own activities and conducted a Ponzi scheme with the remaining funds,” said Michele W. Layne, Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office.

The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal court in San Diego, charges Moore with violating federal antifraud laws and related SEC rules.  The SEC seeks a permanent injunction, return of allegedly ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest and a penalty.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by David M. Rosen and supervised by Marc J. Blau of the Los Angeles office.  The SEC’s litigation will be led by Gary Leung.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

SEC ANNOUNCES MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR PAYMENT TO FRAUD SCHEME WHISTLEBLOWER

FROM:  U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 
SEC Pays More Than $3 Million to Whistleblower
07/17/2015 10:54 AM EDT

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a whistleblower award of more than $3 million to a company insider whose information helped the SEC crack a complex fraud.  The multi-million dollar payout is the third highest award to date under the SEC’s whistleblower program.

The whistleblower’s specific and detailed information comprehensively laid out the fraudulent scheme which otherwise would have been very difficult for investigators to detect. The whistleblower’s initial tip also led to related actions that increased the whistleblower’s award.

“Insiders may hold the key to helping our investigators unlock intricate fraudulent schemes,” said Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  “By providing significant financial incentives for people to come forward, the SEC’s whistleblower program continues to be profoundly effective in helping us protect investors and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

“The award made today is another testament to the agency’s commitment to reward those who provide high-quality information that leads to successful enforcement actions and related actions,” said Sean X. McKessy, Chief of the Office of the Whistleblower.  “Our office continues to receive thousands of whistleblower tips each year.  When those tips bear fruit, those individuals, like today’s whistleblower, may receive significant financial awards.”

Whistleblowers who provide the SEC with unique and useful information that contributes to a successful enforcement action are eligible for awards that can range from 10 percent to 30 percent of the money collected when financial sanctions exceed $1 million.  By law, the SEC protects the confidentiality of whistleblowers and does not disclose information that might directly or indirectly reveal a whistleblower’s identity.

Since its inception in 2011, the SEC’s whistleblower program has paid more than $50 million to 18 whistleblowers, including a more than $30 million award in 2014 and a more than $14 million award in 2013.  All payments are made out of an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators.  No money is taken or withheld from harmed investors to pay whistleblower awards.
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