Seven people were charged today with operating 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 Securities and Exchange Commission filed the complaint and says 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, it adds. The company was purportedly based in London, and its stock prices were quoted in the Pink Sheets.
The SEC alleges that the group included stock promoters, traders and a lawyer who wrote a fraudulent opinion letter. 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.
According to the SEC's complaint, the fraudulent pump-and-dump scheme in CO2 Tech stock occurred from late 2006 to April 2007 through the efforts of the following individuals:
* Jonathan R. Curshen, a Sarasota, Fla., resident who founded and led Red Sea.
* David C. Ricci and Ronny Morales Salazar of San Jose, Costa Rica, who were Red Sea stock traders.
* Ariav "Eric" Weinbaum and Yitzchak Zigdon of Israel, who were Red Sea clients.
* Robert L. Weidenbaum of Coral Gables, Fla., a stock promoter who operates a company called CLX & Associates.
* Michael S. Krome of Lake Grove, N.Y., a lawyer who allegedly wrote a fraudulent opinion letter.
The SEC's complaint alleges that CO2 Tech falsely touted business relationships that the company had not formed, including a relationship with the Boeing Company. In fact, there were no communications, correspondence or understandings between CO2 Tech and Boeing.
In the related criminal action, charges brought by the Justice Department's Criminal Division were unsealed against Curshen, Krome, Salazar, Weidenbaum, Weinbaum, and Zigdon. The defendants are charged in the Southern District of Florida variously with conspiracy to commit securities, mail and wire fraud; wire fraud; mail fraud; violating the securities regulation laws and obstruction of justice.