SEC Charges 23 Firms With Short Selling Violations in Crackdown on Potential Manipulation in Advance of Stock Offerings

Press Release

SEC Charges 23 Firms With Short Selling Violations in Crackdown on Potential Manipulation in Advance of Stock Offerings

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2013-182
Washington D.C., Sept. 17, 2013

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced enforcement actions against 23 firms for short selling violations as the agency increases its focus on preventing firms from improperly participating in public stock offerings after selling short those same stocks.  Such violations typically result in illicit profits for the firms.

The enforcement actions are being settled by 22 of the 23 firms charged, resulting in more than $14.4 million in monetary sanctions. 

The SEC’s Rule 105 of Regulation M prohibits the short sale of an equity security during a restricted period – generally five business days before a public offering – and the purchase of that same security through the offering.  The rule applies regardless of the trader’s intent, and promotes offering prices that are set by natural forces of supply and demand rather than manipulative activity.  The rule therefore helps prevent short selling that can reduce offering proceeds received by companies by artificially depressing the market price shortly before the company prices its public offering.

The firms charged in these cases allegedly bought offered shares from an underwriter, broker, or dealer participating in a follow-on public offering after having sold short the same security during the restricted period.  

“The benchmark of an effective enforcement program is zero tolerance for any securities law violations, including violations that do not require manipulative intent,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  “Through this new program of streamlined investigations and resolutions of Rule 105 violations, we are sending the clear message that firms must pay the price for violations while also conserving agency resources.”

The SEC’s National Examination Program simultaneously has issued a risk alert to highlight risks to firms from non-compliance with Rule 105.  The risk alert highlights observations by SEC examiners focusing on Rule 105 compliance issues as well as corrective actions that some firms proactively have taken to remedy Rule 105 concerns.

“This coordination between the enforcement and examination programs reaffirms that market participants must be in compliance with Rule 105 to preserve and protect the independent pricing mechanisms of the securities markets,” said Andrew Bowden, Director of the SEC’s National Exam Program.

In a litigated administrative proceeding against G-2 Trading LLC, the SEC’s Division of Enforcement is alleging that the firm violated Rule 105 in connection with transactions in the securities of three companies, resulting in profits of more than $13,000.  The Enforcement Division is seeking full disgorgement of the trading profits, prejudgment interest, penalties, and other relief as appropriate and in the public interest. 

The SEC charged the following firms in this series of settled enforcement actions:

  • Blackthorn Investment Group – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $244,378.24, prejudgment interest of $15,829.74, and a penalty of $260,000.00.
  • Claritas Investments Ltd. – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $73,883.00, prejudgment interest of $5,936.67, and a penalty of $65,000.00.
  • Credentia Group – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $4,091.00, prejudgment interest of $113.38, and a penalty of $65,000.00.
  • D.E. Shaw & Co. – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $447,794.00, prejudgment interest of $18,192.37, and a penalty of $201,506.00.
  • Deerfield Management Company – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $1,273,707.00, prejudgment interest of $19,035.00, and a penalty of $609,482.00.
  • Hudson Bay Capital Management – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $665,674.96, prejudgment interest of $11,661.31, and a penalty of $272,118.00.
  • JGP Global Gestão de Recursos – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $2,537,114.00, prejudgment interest of $129,310.00, and a penalty of $514,000.00.
  • M.S. Junior, Swiss Capital Holdings, and Michael A. Stango – Agreed to collectively pay disgorgement of $247,039.00, prejudgment interest of $15,565.77, and a penalty of $165,332.00.
  • Manikay Partners – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $1,657,000.00, prejudgment interest of $214,841.31, and a penalty of $679,950.00.
  • Meru Capital Group – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $262,616.00, prejudgment interest of $4,600.51, and a penalty of $131,296.98.00.
  • Merus Capital Partners – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $8,402.00, prejudgment interest of $63.65, and a penalty of $65,000.00.
  • Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $144,898.00, prejudgment interest of $11,642.90, and a penalty of $68,295.
  • Pan Capital AB – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $424,593.00, prejudgment interest of $17,249.80, and a penalty of $220,655.00.
  • PEAK6 Capital Management – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $58,321.00, prejudgment interest of $8,896.89, and a penalty of $65,000.00.
  • Philadelphia Financial Management of San Francisco – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $137,524.38, prejudgment interest of $16,919.26, and a penalty of $65,000.00.
  • Polo Capital International Gestão de Recursos a/k/a Polo Capital Management – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $191,833.00, prejudgment interest of $14,887.51, and a penalty of $76,000.00.
  • Soundpost Partners – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $45,135.00, prejudgment interest of $3,180.85, and a penalty of $65,000.00.
  • Southpoint Capital Advisors – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $346,568.00, prejudgment interest of $17,695.76, and a penalty of $170,494.00.
  • Talkot Capital – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $17,640.00, prejudgment interest of $1,897.68, and a penalty of $65,000.00.
  • Vollero Beach Capital Partners – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $594,292, prejudgment interest of $55.171, and a penalty of $214,964.
  • War Chest Capital Partners – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $187,036.17, prejudgment interest of $10,533.18, and a penalty of $130,000.00.
  • Western Standard – Agreed to pay disgorgement of $44,980.30, prejudgment interest of $1,827.40, and a penalty of $65,000.00.

The SEC’s investigations were conducted by Conway T. Dodge, Anita B. Bandy, Lauren B. Poper, Christina M. Adams, Allen A. Flood, Kevin J. Gershfeld, Wendy Kong, Mary S. Brady, Ian S. Karpel, Kimberly L. Frederick, and J. Lee Robinson.  The SEC’s litigation will be led by James A. Kidney.  The SEC appreciates the ongoing assistance of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

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