SEC Charges Florida Microcap Company, CEO and Consultant with Fraud
Litigation Release No. 24295 / September 28, 2018
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Nutra Pharma Corp. et al, No. 1:18-cv-05459 (E.D.N.Y filed September 28, 2018)
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a Florida-based microcap issuer, its CEO, and one of its consultants with making material misstatements to retail investors, among other charges.
According to the SEC's complaint, Nutra Pharma Corp., a microcap issuer that purports to make pain relief drugs with cobra venom, and its CEO, Rik Deitsch, issued or posted six press releases that materially misled investors. The releases allegedly implied, among other things, that Nutra Pharma was engaged in international distribution and sales of its product, when it was not, and that Nutra Pharma had upgraded its cobra farm facilities, when Nutra Pharma had no cobras, had no cobra farm, and had never produced cobra venom. Nutra Pharma publicized many of these press releases while Nutra Pharma and Deitsch engaged in an unregistered distribution of its securities to retail investors. In addition, on multiple occasions, Deitsch allegedly engaged in manipulative trading designed to "walk up" Nutra Pharma's stock price and create the appearance of active trading in Nutra Pharma. Further, Nutra Pharma and Deitsch allegedly failed to make numerous required filings, including filings about the company's sales of unregistered securities and filings about Deitsch's beneficial ownership of the company's securities. According to the SEC's complaint, Sean McManus, a consultant for Nutra Pharma, also made numerous misstatements while soliciting investors in Nutra Pharma. In addition, McManus allegedly acted as an unregistered broker, despite being permanently barred in 2001 by the NASD (now FINRA) from associating with NASD member firms.
The SEC's complaint charges Nutra Pharma with violations of the antifraud, registration, and reporting provisions of Sections 5(a) and (c) and 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Sections 10(b) and 13(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5(b), 13a-11, and 13a-13 thereunder. The complaint also charges Deitsch with violations of the antifraud, anti-manipulation, beneficial ownership disclosure, registration, and reporting provisions of Sections 5(a) and (c) and 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act, and Sections 9(a)(2), 10(b), 13(a), 13(d), and 16(a) of the Exchange Act and Rules 10b-5, 13a-14, 13d-2, and 16a-3 thereunder, and aiding and abetting Nutra Pharma's violations of Section 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act and Sections 10(b) and 13(a) of the Exchange Act and Rules 10b-5(b), 13a-11 and 13a-13 thereunder. Finally, the complaint charges McManus with violations of the antifraud and broker-dealer registration provisions of Section 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act, Sections 10(b) and 15(a) of the Exchange Act, and Rule 10b-5(b) thereunder. The SEC seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement, and civil penalties against all defendants, a penny stock bar against Deitsch and McManus, and an officer and director bar against Deitsch.
The SEC's investigation was conducted by Lindsay S. Moilanen, John O. Enright, Matthew Lambert, and Sheldon L. Pollock, and the case was supervised by Lara S. Mehraban. The litigation will be led by Preethi Krishnamurthy and Ms. Moilanen.