SEC Charges Additional Defendants in $30 Million ICO Fraud
Litigation Release No. 25117 / June 15, 2021
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Ali Asif Hamid, Michael Gietz, and Cristine Page a/k/a Cristina Page, Civil Action No. 2:21-cv-12542 (D.N.J. Filed June 15, 2021)
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged three additional individuals for their roles in the $30 million initial coin offering ("ICO") fraud that was spearheaded by convicted criminal Boaz Manor and his associate, Edith Pardo. The SEC previously charged Manor, Pardo, and their companies, CG Blockchain, Inc. and BCT Inc. SEZC in connection with the scheme in January 2020.
According to the SEC's complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, defendants Ali Asif Hamid of Oakville, Ontario, Canada, Michael Gietz of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Cristine Page of Brooklyn, New York, played leadership roles in an ICO that would purportedly fund the development of technology to trade digital assets, while at the same time actively hiding Manor's role as the head of this venture. As alleged in the complaint, the three defendants knew that Manor was a convicted criminal at the center of a widely publicized Canadian hedge fund collapse. To conceal Manor's involvement and his history from investors, they used Manor's chosen alias "Shaun MacDonald" in ICO related-communications and helped create and distribute materially misleading ICO marketing materials, which omitted any reference either to Manor or to the fictional "MacDonald" and instead touted a purported "executive team" of individuals who, in reality, had no senior managerial authority over the business.
The SEC's complaint charges Hamid, Gietz, and Page with violating and aiding and abetting violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and with violating securities registration requirements. The complaint seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus interest, penalties, and injunctive relief. Without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, Page has agreed to a settlement, subject to court approval, that includes permanent injunctions, disgorgement of the digital assets that she received in connection with her misconduct, and a civil penalty of $192,768.
The SEC's investigation has been conducted by Tracy Sivitz, Ann Marie Preissler, and Simona Suh of the SEC Enforcement Division's Market Abuse Unit, and by Jordan Baker and Sandeep Satwalekar of the SEC's New York Regional Office. The case has been supervised by Lara Shalov Mehraban of the New York Office and by Joseph G. Sansone, Chief of the Market Abuse Unit. The SEC's litigation will be led by Pascale Guerrier, Ms. Sivitz, Ms. Preissler, Mr. Satwalekar, and Ms. Suh. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.