SEC Obtains Final Judgments Against Lawyer and Stock Promoters in Pump-And-Dump Case
Litigation Release No. 24851 / July 7, 2020
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Luke C. Zouvas et al., No. CV-17-00427-PHX-SPL (D. Ariz. filed Apr. 25, 2016)
On June 1, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona entered final consent judgments against Luke C. Zouvas, Christopher D. Larson and Cameron F. Robb for their roles in an alleged fraudulent stock promotion scheme.
According to the SEC's complaint, filed on April 25, 2016, Larson obtained controlling shares of Crown Dynamics Corp., a shell company that merged with a private entity. With the assistance of Zouvas, who served as general counsel for the company, Larson allegedly transferred Crown shares to his nominees. He then paid $400,000 for a "call center" to promote Crown and placed manipulative trades in his own brokerage account to create the appearance of market interest in the stock. The complaint further alleges that Robb prepared materially misleading press releases about the company's business success, and that Larson's nominees sold Crown shares and wired most of the sale proceeds - at least $865,000 - to accounts Larson controlled.
Without admitting or denying the allegations, Larson and Robb consented to the final judgments, which permanently enjoin them from violating the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. In addition, the court ordered Larson and Robb to pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest, jointly and severally, of $320,672, and ordered each to pay a civil penalty of $75,000. The Court also imposed five-year conduct-based injunctions and officer and director bars against them. Separately, on June 3, 2020, Larson agreed to be permanently suspended from appearing and practicing before the SEC as an accountant, which includes not participating in the financial reporting or audits of public companies.
The Court previously ruled on summary judgment that Zouvas violated Section 17(a)(3) of the Securities Act, and imposed disgorgement and prejudgment interest against him totaling $94,469. Zouvas subsequently consented to the final judgment, which permanently enjoins him from violating the remaining antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act, and Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the Exchange Act, and the court dismissed the SEC's claim for a civil penalty. In addition, the Court permanently barred Zouvas from participating in any future offering of a penny stock.
The Court also issued final consent judgments dismissing the SEC's claims against Jason M. Schiprett and Robert D. Jorgenson, concluding this litigation.
The SEC's litigation was led by Patrick R. Costello and James P. Connor, supervised by Frederick L. Block, and assisted by investigative staff Michael T. Grimes, Carolyn Kurr, Keith O'Donnell, and Daniel Rubenstein, supervised by C. Joshua Felker, and by Bonnie Kartzman, Andy Lewczyk, Sandy Medina-Henderson, Marlee Miller, Mickael Moore, and Marianne Olson in the Office of International Affairs.