U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 21549 / June 8, 2010
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Petrogas Overseas Trading, LP and Samuel O. LeMaire, Defendants, and Petroenergy, Inc., Relief Defendant, Civil Action No. 4-10 CV-395-A (N.D. Tx)(June 7, 2010)
SEC Charges Texas Resident for Operating a Faith-Based Affinity Fraud Scheme
On June 7, 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission ("Commission") filed an emergency civil injunctive action to halt an ongoing religious affinity fraud orchestrated by Petrogas Overseas Trading, LP and its owner, Samuel O. LeMaire.
The Commission's complaint alleges that beginning in at least 2007 and continuing through the present, LeMaire and Petrogas raised at least $2.3 million by appealing to the Christian faith of potential investors. The Commission alleges that LeMaire, a Nigerian citizen living in North Texas, held himself out as a minister and a "man of God" who planned to start a foundation to help needy children in Nigeria. LeMaire proposed to fund this foundation, and also make money for investors, with profits earned from the sale of tanker-loads of oil from Nigeria. The Commission alleges that LeMaire told investors that he had connections to, and relationships within, the Nigerian oil industry, and promised investors anywhere from a 200% to a 1,000% return on their money. Unfortunately, the Commission alleges, LeMaire used investor funds to finance his own lavish lifestyle and support friends and family in the U.S. and abroad. In fact, for at least two years, the Commission alleges, LeMaire continued to raise funds while claiming that millions of dollars were sitting offshore waiting to be transferred to the U.S. and distributed to investors — all of which was false.
The Commission's complaint, filed in United States District for the Northern District of Texas, alleges that LeMaire and Petrogas violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The Commission's complaint also names Petroenergy, Inc. as a relief defendant.
The Commission seeks an ex parte temporary restraining order, asset freeze, accounting, and orders preserving documents, expediting discovery, and requiring the surrender of passports and the repatriation of assets against each defendant. The Commission also seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions against further violations of the securities laws, disgorgement plus prejudgment interest, and civil money penalties from each defendant. The Commission also seeks to recover investor funds improperly obtained by the relief defendant.