(CN) – The Securities Exchange Commission filed an emergency action against solar panel company Nanotech Engineering and its lead executives over an alleged ongoing securities fraud against more than a hundred investors.
The SEC’s complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Irvine, Calif.-based Nanotech, CEO David Sweaney, COO Jeffery Gange, and CFO Michael James Sweaney who, according to the SEC, operates under the alias Michael Hatton. Michael Sweaney was charged with felony securities fraud in 1998 but “despite efforts to hide his true identity from Nanotech investors, Michael Sweaney has listed his legal name on multiple Nanotech bank forms,” the complaint says.
The SEC alleges that the defendants solicited more than $9.4 million in investments and misappropriated more than $2.4 million to support a “lavish lifestyle” by buying yachts, sports cars and cosmetic surgery. The commission claims the defendants spent $208,500 on a yacht, $39,549 on cosmetic surgery, $18,643 on Gucci and Louis Vuitton, $100,000 on Maserati sports cars, in addition to $301,000 in direct transfers to Michael Sweaney.
Moreover, the SEC claims the defendants filed misleading and incorrect forms with the commission that failed to disclose Michael Sweaney’s role within the company and his prior conviction.
Nanotech operated by employing unlicensed stockbrokers in a “boiler-room” type setting who cold-called potential investors convincing them to “invest by dubious claims of a patent-pending invention that would change the world: the allegedly revolutionary “Nanopanel” solar panel,” the complaint states.
The SEC seeks an emergency, temporary, and preliminary order against the defendants and a temporary freezing on their assets, among other relief. The commission is represented by Gregory Bockin, Christopher Bruckmann, Pei Chung and Elizabeth Doisy in Washington.