SEC Charges Officers of Florida Battery Company with Securities Fraud
Litigation Release No. 24207 / July 19, 2018
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Steven J. Barber and Larry Lee Arrowood, Civil Action No. 6:18-CV-01155 (M.D. Fla.)(Filed July 18, 2018)
On July 18, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against two officers of Oakridge Global Energy Solutions, Inc., a now defunct Florida-based company that purported to develop and manufacture lithium batteries, for issuing false and misleading press releases to the public.
The SEC's complaint, filed in federal district court in Orlando, Florida, alleges that Oakridge CEO, Stephen J. Barber, made false and misleading statements in six press releases issued to the public between September 2015 and March 2016 concerning Oakridge and its product and business operations, and that former president, Lee Larry Arrowood, substantially assisted Barber with drafting those press releases while knowing they contained false information. According to the SEC's complaint, Barber and Arrowood issued press releases falsely claiming that Oakridge had signed agreements to supply its battery systems to two other companies, Maritime Tactical Systems, Inc. and Freedom Motors, LLC. In truth, Oakridge had only provided test batteries to those companies for their consideration for possible future orders. The defendants also, among other things, misrepresented that Oakridge had received $250,000 in "immediate booked orders" and more than $20 million in "follow on commitments" for its "state-of-the-art" lithium golf cart batteries, and had "existing pipeline orders" of $24 million for its batteries.
The SEC's complaint alleges that Barber and Arrowood violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The SEC seeks permanent injunctions, officer-and-director bars, and civil penalties against them.
Without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, Arrowood has consented to the entry of a final judgment permanently enjoining him from future violations of Exchange Act Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5, barring him from serving as an officer or director of a public company, and ordering him to pay a civil penalty of $50,000.
The SEC's investigation was conducted by Brian T. James and Kathleen Strandell in the Miami Regional Office, and supervised by Chedly C. Dumornay. The litigation against Barber will be led by Christopher E. Martin.