U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 20431A / January 18, 2008
SEC v. Ernesto Tapanes, 08-60064-CIV-DIMITROULEAS (S.D. FL.) (January 17, 2008)
SEC Charges Ernesto Tapanes With Insider Trading In Connection With Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc.'s Discovery of Black Swan Shipwreck
Ernesto Tapanes Agrees to Settlement Including Permanent Injunction and Payment of Disgorgement and a Civil Penalty Totaling Over $216,000
The Securities and Exchange Commission (Commission) announced today that it has filed a complaint against Ernesto Tapanes in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleging that he engaged in unlawful trading on the basis of material, nonpublic information in the securities of Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (Odyssey Marine) before Odyssey Marine's May 18, 2007 announcement of its discovery of the Black Swan shipwreck, a find valued at more than $500 million dollars.
The complaint alleges that on March 30, 2007, Tapanes, one of Odyssey Marine's oceanographic surveying consultants, discovered an anomaly on the ocean floor, while surveying off the coast of Gibraltar. Within days of the discovery, Odyssey Marine confirmed that the anomaly was an 18th century shipwreck, code-named the Black Swan, containing tons of silver and gold coins. Shortly thereafter, Tapanes and others signed a confidentiality agreement agreeing to keep the find confidential and not to trade in Odyssey Marine stock. In breach of his duty of trust and confidence, and while in possession of material, nonpublic information about that discovery, Tapanes purchased Odyssey Marine stock prior to Odyssey Marine's public announcement of the discovery. The complaint further alleges that soon after Odyssey Marine announced its discovery of the Black Swan on May 18, 2007, Tapanes sold his entire Odyssey Marine position for a profit of more than $107,000.
Tapanes has consented, without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint, to a final judgment permanently enjoining him from violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and ordering him to pay disgorgement of $107,101.92, plus prejudgment interest of $2,151.56, and imposing a civil penalty of $107,101.92.
The Commission acknowledges the substantial assistance of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.