SEC Charges Two Florida Residents for Unlawful Short Selling
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., May 11, 2010 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged two Boca Raton, Fla., residents for engaging in illegal short selling of securities in advance of participating in numerous secondary offerings to make illicit profits.
These mark the first enforcement actions brought by the SEC under Rule 105 of Regulation M against individuals with no securities industry background. Rule 105 helps prevent abusive short selling and market manipulation by ensuring that offering prices are set by natural forces of supply and demand for the securities in a secondary offering rather than by manipulative activity.
In separate orders issued by the Commission, Peter G. Grabler was charged with repeatedly violating Rule 105 over a period of more than two years for gains of $636,123. Leonard Adams was charged with similarly violating Rule 105 for gains of $331,387. According to the orders, Grabler and Adams engaged in a strategy of participating in numerous secondary offerings of stock in public companies in order to improve their access to initial public offerings underwritten by the same broker-dealers through which they participated in the secondary offerings.
Grabler and Adams, who both lived in Massachusetts during the period of the wrongdoing, agreed to pay a combined total of more than $1.5 million to settle the SEC's charges.
"Rule 105 applies just as much to individuals trading in their own accounts as it does to investment advisers and their related funds, which have been the subject of prior SEC enforcement actions," said David P. Bergers, Director of the SEC's Boston Regional Office. "Grabler and Adams engaged in a trading strategy that by its very nature violates the SEC's rules."
Short selling ahead of offerings can reduce the proceeds received by public companies and their shareholders by artificially depressing the market price shortly before the company prices its offering. The SEC amended Rule 105 effective October 2007 to prevent this trading practice known as "shorting into the deal." The revised rule generally prohibits the purchase of offering shares by any person who sold short the same securities within five business days before the pricing of the offering.
According to the SEC's orders, Grabler engaged in transactions prohibited by Rule 105 on at least 119 occasions between February 2006 and November 2008, involving secondary offerings by at least 102 issuers. Adams engaged in illegal transactions on at least 94 occasions between March 2006 and November 2008, involving secondary offerings by at least 86 issuers. The SEC found that Grabler opened or controlled at least 52 brokerage accounts at more than a dozen broker-dealers and that Adams opened or controlled at least 32 brokerages accounts also at more than a dozen broker-dealers.
In settling the SEC's charges without admitting or denying the SEC's findings, Grabler and Adams separately consented to cease and desist from violating Rule 105. Grabler will pay more than $988,000 to settle the SEC's charges, and Adams will pay more than $514,000.
This case was investigated by James Fay and Kevin Kelcourse of the SEC's Boston Regional Office and Scott Stanley of the SEC's Office of Market Intelligence.
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For more information about this enforcement action, contact:
David P. Bergers
Director of the SEC's Boston Regional Office