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Corporate Insiders Charged for Failing to Update Disclosures Involving “Going Private” Transactions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2015-47
Washington D.C., March 13, 2015

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged eight officers, directors, or major shareholders for failing to update their stock ownership disclosures to reflect material changes, including steps to take the companies private.  Each of the respondents, without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, agreed to settle the proceedings by paying a financial penalty. 

The charges involve outdated disclosures in reports filed by “beneficial owners” who hold more than 5 percent of a company’s stock.  Federal securities laws require beneficial owners to promptly file an amendment when there is a material change in the facts previously reported by them on Schedule 13D, commonly referred to as a “beneficial ownership report.” The disclosure requirements include plans or proposals that would result in certain transactions, such as a going private transaction.

“Investors are entitled to current and accurate information about the plans of large shareholders and company insiders,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the Division of Enforcement.  “Stale, generic disclosures that simply reserve the right to engage in certain corporate transactions do not suffice when there are material changes to those plans, including actions to take a company private.”

The SEC’s orders find that the respondents took steps to advance undisclosed plans to effect going private transactions.  Some determined the form of the transaction to take the company private, obtained waivers from preferred shareholders, and assisted with shareholder vote projections, while others informed company management of their intention to privatize the company and formed a consortium of shareholders to participate in the going private transaction.  As described in the SEC orders, each respective respondent took a series of significant steps that, when viewed together, resulted in a material change from the disclosures that each had previously made in their Schedule 13D filings.

According to the SEC’s orders, some of the respondents also failed to timely report their ownership of securities in the company that was the subject of a going private transaction.  In addition, six respondents only disclosed their transactions in company securities months or years after the fact, not within two businesses days, as required for these disclosures by insiders.

The SEC today issued the following orders:

Berjaya Lottery Management (H.K.) Ltd.

According to the SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding, Berjaya Lottery Management (H.K.) Ltd., a Hong Kong corporation, waited eight months to disclose it had taken steps to effectuate a going private transaction for International Lottery & Totalizator Systems Inc.  Berjaya’s failure to promptly amend its disclosure violated Section 13(d)(2) of the Exchange Act and Rule 13d-2(a).  Berjaya was ordered pay a civil money penalty in the amount of $75,000.

The Ciabattoni Living Trust; SMP Investments I, LLC; Anthony J. Ciabattoni; Jane G. Ciabattoni; William A. Houlihan; and Brian Potiker

According to SEC orders instituting a settled administrative proceeding against The Ciabattoni Living Trust and Anthony and Jane Ciabattoni, the Trust and the Ciabattonis waited more than five months to amend their Schedule 13D disclosure after taking steps to effectuate a going private transaction for First Physicians Capital Group, Inc.  The Trust and the Ciabattonis failed to promptly amend their disclosure, in violation of Section 13(d)(2) of the Exchange Act and Rule 13d-2(a).  The order also found that the Trust and the Ciabattonis violated Section 16(a) by failing to report material transactions in First Physicians Capital Group shares until months or years later.  The Ciabattoni Living Trust and the Ciabattonis were ordered to pay a civil money penalty in the amount of $75,000.

In separate SEC orders, the SEC found that SMP Investments I, LLC, and Brian Potiker waited approximately three months to update their Schedule 13D disclosure after taking steps to effectuate a going private transaction for First Physicians Capital Group.  SMP and Potiker’s failure to promptly amend their disclosures violated Section 13(d)(2) of the Exchange Act and Rule 13d-2(a).  The order also found that SMP and Potiker violated Section 16(a) by failing to report material transactions in First Physicians Capital Group shares until months or years later.  SMP and Potiker were ordered to pay a civil money penalty in the amount of $63,750.

According to the SEC’s order instituting settled administrative proceedings against William Houlihan, the SEC found that Houlihan waited approximately five months before amending his previous Schedule 13D after taking a series of steps to effectuate a going private transaction for First Physicians Capital Group.  Houlihan’s failure to promptly amend his disclosure violated Section 13(d)(2) of the Exchange Act and Rule 13d-2(a).  The order also found that Houlihan violated Section 16(a) by waiting more than five months to report a material transaction in First Physicians Capital Group shares. Houlihan was ordered to pay a civil money penalty in the amount of $15,000.

Shuipan Lin

According to the SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding, Shuipan Lin, the Chairman and CEO of China-based Exceed Company Ltd., failed to timely amend his Schedule 13D report after taking steps to effectuate a going private transaction for Exceed.  In addition, the order finds that Lin did not file his initial Schedule 13D report until May 2011 even though his filing obligation began in October 2009 when he owned approximately 20% of Exceed’s ordinary shares.  Finally, the order finds that Lin failed to amend his Schedule 13D to report a subsequent acquisition of Exceed’s shares.  Lin was ordered to pay a civil money penalty in the amount of $30,000.

The SEC’s investigations were conducted by Sharan K.S. Custer and Allen A. Flood and supervised by Anita B. Bandy and Conway T. Dodge.  The Enforcement Division staff worked in close collaboration with Michele Anderson, Nicholas Panos, Christina Chalk, and Mellissa Duru in the Division of Corporation Finance’s Office of Mergers and Acquisitions.

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