MANHATTAN - Cayman Islands-based Caledonian Bank and four other companies took more than $75 million from unregistered sales of "virtually worthless" penny stocks, the SEC claims in court.
The SEC on Friday sued Caledonian Bank, Caledonian Securities, Clear Water Securities, Legacy Global Markets, and Verdmont Capital, in Federal Court.
The Caledonian defendants are based in the Cayman Islands. Clearwater and Legacy are based in Belize, Verdmont in Panama.
All of the scams were the same, the SEC says in its 39-page complaint. First, they filed "bogus registration statements" with the SEC, purporting to register securities to public shareholders, though there were no such sales and the securities stayed in the control of the issuers and their affiliates.
"In the sham offerings, the issuers pretended to sell securities to shareholders in such places as Serbia, Mexico, Ireland, Norway, Panama and Jamaica," the SEC says.
The restricted securities were then "passed off" as free-trading stocks in the United States and sold to the public, the SEC says in the lawsuit.
The agency claims the defendants operated as affiliates, dealers, sales outlets and underwriters, in connection with four shell companies: Swingplane Ventures, Goff Corp., Nostra Energy and Xuamnii Inc.
"(T)hese violations occurred simultaneously with aggressive and extensive promotion campaigns for the penny stocks of those shell companies," the SEC said. "The defendants' unregistered sales of securities generated more than $75 million in proceeds on penny stocks that were virtually worthless and whose prices fell to their former token levels within months of the defendants' sales."
The SEC seeks disgorgement, restitution, penalties and an injunction.
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