Federal regulators filed a civil suit Thursday against a Bellingham-based penny-stock company, its CEO and a promoter for allegedly defrauding...
Federal regulators filed a civil suit Thursday against a Bellingham-based penny-stock company, its CEO and a promoter for allegedly defrauding investors in a pump-and-dump scheme.
The complaint, filed in federal court in Seattle by the Securities and Exchange Commission, claims that in 2004 Strategic Management and Opportunity (SMPP), a firm that purported to manufacture information kiosks, published misleading news releases to inflate its stock price.
The company’s chief executive, Robert Pratt, of Lynden, racked up profits of more than $628,000 by selling shares at the height of the promotional effort, the suit says. The company’s shares traded in the loosely regulated over-the-counter market.
Jeffrey Brommer, a North Carolina investor-relations consultant hired by SMPP, settled with the SEC by agreeing to pay nearly $66,000 without acknowledging any wrongdoing. The SEC had alleged he made about $25,000 by selling inflated SMPP shares.
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Brommer, previously accused by the agency of participating in other fraudulent schemes, also is barred from participating in any future penny-stock offerings, court documents say.
Brommer’s lawyer, Houston-based Martin Nathan, declined to comment.
Pratt and SMPP have not settled with the agency, which seeks to make Pratt pay penalties and disgorge any ill-gotten gains. The suit also aims to bar him from running a public company and participating in penny-stock offerings.
Pratt and the company “haven’t expressed any interest in resolving the matter,” said Diana Tani, assistant regional director at the SEC’s Los Angeles office.
Pump-and-dump scams are rife in the world of penny stocks, generally defined as shares trading below $5.
One of the hotbeds of fraudulent activity is British Columbia, where regulators are trying to crack down on the practice.
Ángel González: 206-515-5644 or firstname.lastname@example.org