U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 21861 / February 17, 2011
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Sakwinder Singh Narwal, Justin Beck, Brian Hill, and Larry Downs, United States District Court for the Southern District of California, Case No. 3:11-cv-00303-JAH -POR (filed Feb. 16, 2011).
SEC Charges Three San Diego-Based Stock Promoters and a Canadian Citizen in a Pump and Dump Scheme
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged three principals of Del Mar Corporate Communications, LLC, a San Diego-based investor relations company, and a Canadian citizen for committing fraud while promoting a penny stock company headquartered in British Columbia, Canada.
In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, the SEC alleges that Sakwinder Narwal, a British Columbia resident, hired Del Mar Corporate Communications, which is now defunct, and its principals Justin Beck, Brian Hill, and Larry Downs to conduct a telemarketing campaign designed to dupe investors into buying the stock of Pax Clean Energy with exaggerated claims about the company’s future prospects and stock price.
The SEC alleges that beginning in February 2009, Narwal hired Del Mar Corporate Communications to promote Pax Clean Energy and its planned merger with another company. The SEC alleges that Narwal funded and controlled the entire fraudulent campaign. He directed Beck, Hill, and Downs to hype the stock by telling investors that Pax Clean Energy would be the “next Google” and its price would rise to $100 per share by the end of the year. The SEC contends that by April 2009, the defendants successfully pumped the stock price to an all-time high of $11.24 per share. During this time, and without disclosing to investors, Narwal and Del Mar Corporate Communications repeatedly sold Pax Clean Energy shares — the very securities they were recommending investors to buy – reaping proceeds of almost $455,000 and $140,000, respectively.
The SEC’s complaint charges all four defendants with violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The SEC seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement, a civil penalty, and a penny stock bar against Narwal.
Without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, Beck, Hill, and Downs have agreed to settle the charges against them. All three agreed to an injunction, and additionally, Downs consented to a penny stock bar. Beck and Hill also agreed to certain undertakings and a five year conduct-based injunction. The SEC requires all of them to pay disgorgement relating to Del Mar Corporate Communications’ stock sales along with pre-judgment interest, and Downs to pay a civil penalty, but waives these payments based on their sworn financial statements. The SEC did not seek a civil penalty against Beck or Hill.
The SEC has entered into cooperation agreements with Beck and Hill. The terms of their settlements reflect credit given to them by the SEC for their substantial past and anticipated continuing cooperation in its investigation and enforcement action.
The SEC previously suspended trading in Pax Clean Energy on April 28, 2009, due to questions about the accuracy of the information circulating in the market about the company. See http://www.sec.gov/litigation/suspensions/2009/34-59827.pdf.