Washington, D.C., Feb. 18, 2011 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a group of seven individuals who perpetrated a fraudulent pump-and-dump scheme in the stock of a sham company that purported to provide products and services to fight global warming.
The SEC alleges that the group included stock promoters, traders, and a lawyer who wrote a fraudulent opinion letter. The scheme resulted in more than $7 million in illicit profits from sales of stock in CO2 Tech Ltd. at artificially inflated prices. Despite touting impressive business relationships and anti-global warming technology innovations, CO2 Tech did not have any significant assets or operations. The company was purportedly based in London, and its stock prices were quoted in the Pink Sheets.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the scheme was perpetrated through Red Sea Management Ltd., a Costa Rican asset protection company that laundered millions of dollars in illicit trading proceeds out of the United States on behalf of its clients. The U.S. Department of Justice today announced related criminal charges against six of the individuals.
“This group of illicit stock promoters sought to hide their scheme behind offshore entities, but their misconduct was exposed by the excellent cooperation of law enforcement agencies here and abroad,” said Cheryl Scarboro, Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.