SEC Charges Third Participant in Market Manipulation Scheme

Litigation Release No. 25358 / April 11, 2022

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Anthony Salandra,

Civil Action No. 1:22-cv-01405 (N.D. Ga. filed April 11, 2022)

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against Anthony Salandra, for his role in a market manipulation scheme in which he and several other individuals created false rumors about public companies in order to profitably trade around the temporary price increases caused by the publication of the rumors. The SEC previously charged Barton Ross and Mark Melnick for their roles in this scheme.

According to the complaint, filed in the United Stated District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on April 11, 2022, Salandra, Ross and a third individual created false rumors about purported market-moving events, such as corporate mergers or acquisitions, involving publicly-traded companies. As alleged, the false rumors were then shared with Melnick and another individual who disseminated the false rumors through real-time financial news services, financial chat rooms, and message boards, causing the prices of the subject companies' securities to rise temporarily. Between October 2017 and January 2020, Salandra allegedly was involved in the creation of and traded around at least 92 false rumors, generating over $132,000 in illicit profits. The other scheme participants also traded around the false rumors, generating significant profits.

The SEC's complaint charges Salandra 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. Salandra has agreed to cooperate with the Enforcement Division and has consented to the entry of a judgment which, subject to court approval, will permanently enjoin him from violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and require him to pay disgorgement of $132,560 plus prejudgment interest and a civil penalty in an amount to be determined at a later date. Salandra has also agreed to a penny stock bar and to be barred from the securities industry. In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia today announced that Salandra pleaded guilty to related criminal charges.

The SEC's investigation, which is ongoing, is being conducted by Martin Zerwitz of the Enforcement Division's Cyber Unit and Jonathan Austin. The investigation is supervised by Deborah Tarasevich; Kristina Littman, Chief of the Cyber Unit; and Joseph G. Sansone, Chief of the Enforcement Division's Market Abuse Unit. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.