A Wall Street CEO and his company, family members and business associates have been charged with manipulating the stock of Chinese companies that were trying to go public, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Thursday.
Benjamin Wey and his company, New York Global Group, were trying to secretly obtain control of Chinese companies they were purportedly guiding through the process of raising capital and becoming publicly traded in the United States, the SEC says.
Wey and his firm structured reverse mergers between clients and publicly traded shell companies in such a way that he and other family members secretly obtained ownership interests of more than 5 percent of the newly listed companies, according to the SEC. To avoid detection and evade SEC reporting requirements as beneficial owners, they divided their shares among a vast network of foreign accounts and generated tens of millions of dollars in illegal profits as they sold the securities into artificially inflated markets, the complaint says.
The illicit profits eventually circled back to Wey and his wife, Michaela Wey, who used the money to finance a lavish lifestyle, according to the complaint. Also charged in the scheme are Michaela Wey’s sister, Tianyi Wei; their Switzerland-based broker, Seref Dogan Erbek; and attorneys Robert Newman and William Uchimoto.
In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York today announced criminal charges against Wey and Erbek.
“We allege that when the Weys and NYGG were supposed to be helping Chinese companies go public in the U.S., they were secretly obtaining control of blocks of their clients’ shares so they could manipulate the markets and derive illegal profits. The Weys and their attorneys went to extraordinary lengths to hide their scheme,” says Antonia Chion, associate director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.