SEC: Penny-Stock Scammers Used ‘Intricate Web Of Offshore Corporations, Foreign Accounts, And Financial Institutions . . . In Canada, Nevis, Panama, Switzerland, And The Turks And Caicos Islands’

breakingnews72Two Canadians have been charged by the SEC in an alleged pump-and-dump scheme that included a reverse merger between a “shell public company” and a startup, “blast emails” and a concerted hype campaign, the U.S. agency said.

Named defendants are Bruce D. Strebinger, 38, of Vancouver, and Brent Howard Chapman, 38, who “is or has been residing in Antigua,” the SEC said. The complaint is filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

“Strebinger and Chapman rigged a penny stock in their favor while staging a massive promotional campaign,” said William P. Hicks, associate director for enforcement in the SEC’s Atlanta Regional Office. “They disguised their scheme by dumping their shares in relatively small amounts over extended periods of time, and they attempted to hide their proceeds from U.S. regulators by routing them through offshore accounts.”

The shell was known as Americas Energy Company-AECo. Its stock was suspended, with the company being liquidated in bankruptcy, the SEC said. The other company was a startup coal mining and oil and gas exploration business based in Nashville, Tennessee” that became known as Americas Energy Company Inc.

From the complaint (italics added):

The promotion began in September 2009 and continued through April 2010. While the promotion continued and the Stock price soared, Strebinger and Chapman sold their Stock for $17 million through offshore accounts, including accounts with Swiss financial institutions in the names of three entities: (1) Muskateer Investments, Inc. (“Muskateer”), beneficially owned by Strebinger; (2) Furla Blue SpA (“Furla”), beneficially owned by Strebinger’s wife, Anne Strebinger (“Strebinger’s Wife” ); and (3) Lance Investments S.A. (“Lance), beneficially owned by Chapman.”

The promotion increased investor demand for the Stock and enabled Strebinger and Chapman to reap huge profits through sales of the Stock while simultaneously concealing from investors not only that Strebinger and Chapman owned a significant portion of Americas Stock, but also that it was Strebinger and Chapman who were together marketing and funding a multi-million dollar promotional campaign related to the Stock.”

All in all, the SEC charged, the duo sold their shares “through an intricate web of offshore corporations, foreign accounts, and financial institutions located in Canada, Nevis, Panama, Switzerland, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

Assisting in the probe were the British Columbia Securities Commission, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the SEC said.

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