The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged four securities industry professionals with conducting a fraudulent penny stock scheme in which they illegally acquired more than one billion unregistered shares in microcap companies at deep discounts and then dumped them on the market for approximately $17 million in illicit profits while claiming bogus exemptions from the federal securities laws.
The SEC alleges that Danny Garber, Michael Manis, Kenneth Yellin, and Jordan Feinstein acquired shares at about 30 to 60 percent off the market price by misrepresenting to the penny stock companies that they intended to hold the shares for investment purposes rather than immediately re-selling them. Instead, they immediately sold the shares without registering them by purporting to rely on an exemption for transactions that are in compliance with certain types of state law exemptions. However, no such state law exemptions were applicable to their transactions. To create the appearance that the claimed exemption was valid, they created virtual corporate presences in Minnesota, Texas, and Delaware. The SEC also charged 12 entities that they operated in connection with the scheme.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Garber, Manis, Yellin, and Feinstein all live in the New York/New Jersey area and operated the scheme from 2007 to 2010. They each have previously worked in the securities industry either as registered representatives or providers of investment management or financial advisory services.
“These penny stock purchasers had enough securities industry experience to know that their penny stock trading was not exempt from the securities laws as they claimed,” said Andrew M. Calamari, Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office. “They repeatedly violated the registration provisions and in the process also committed securities fraud. We will continue to fight microcap stock abuses that result in the unregistered distribution of shares without vital information about those companies being known to investors.”
The SEC’s complaint alleges that Garber, Manis, Yellin, Feinstein and the named entities violated Sections 5(a), 5(c), and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933; Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5. The SEC’s complaint seeks a final judgment, among other things, ordering all of the defendants to pay disgorgement, prejudgment interest and financial penalties; permanently enjoining all the defendants from future violations of the securities laws; and permanently enjoining all the defendants from participating in penny stock offerings.
The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Michael Paley, Laura Yeu, Elzbieta Wraga, Haimavathi Marlier, Yitzchok Klug and Paul Gizzi of the New York Regional Office. Mr. Gizzi and Ms. Marlier will lead the SEC’s litigation.