SEC Charges Three in Crude Oil Processing Scheme

Litigation Release No. 24266 / September 12, 2018

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Laura, et al., No. 18-cv-05075 (E.D.N.Y.) (filed Sept. 7, 2018)

On September 7, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed an action against Joseph M. Laura, Anthony R. Sichenzio, and Walter Gil de Rubio, for defrauding approximately 80 investors of over $3.7 million.

According to the SEC's complaint, the defendants defrauded investors and misappropriated investor funds between June 2013 and January 2017 through sales of securities in a company that claimed to have rights to a crude oil processing technology. The complaint alleges that Laura drafted investor contracts that contained baseless and unreasonably optimistic projections concerning the timing and amount of investment returns, and made false statements about the use of offering proceeds. The complaint further alleges that Laura claimed investor funds would be used for "working capital" when less than half of the investors' funds went to legitimate business uses. Instead, Laura misappropriated more than half the funds raised. The complaint alleges that Sichenzio and Gil de Rubio schemed with, and aided and abetted Laura in the fraud, were aware of Laura's misappropriation, and also received investor funds.

The SEC's complaint, filed in federal district court in Brooklyn, charges Laura with violating the antifraud provisions of 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 as well as the unregistered broker dealer provision of Section 15(a)(1) of the Exchange Act. It charges Sichenzio and Gil de Rubio with violating the antifraud provisions of Sections 17(a)(1) and (3) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rules 10b-5(a) and (c) thereunder, and with aiding and abetting Laura's violations of the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5(b) thereunder.

The SEC's investigation was conducted by Margaret Spillane, Neil Hendelman and Thomas P. Smith, Jr., and supervised by Lara S. Mehraban.  The SEC's litigation will be led by Kevin McGrath and Ms. Spillane.