Several Canadians stand accused of participating in a series of international penny stock trading schemes.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged six people, including three Canadians, for their alleged involvement with schemes that regulators say generated more than US$35 million from illegal sales of at least 45 microcap stocks.
The SEC filed complaints alleging, among other things, that two Canadians, Steve Bajic and Rajesh Taneja, “helped shareholders secretly dump large quantities of microcap stock” and coordinated the illegal trading with a couple of U.K. citizens and Swiss company Blacklight SA.
Another Canadian, Christopher McKnight, is also accused in the scheme.
In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York also announced criminal charges against Blacklight and one of the U.K. citizens.
None of the allegations has been proven.
“As we allege in the complaints, the defendants evaded the securities registration requirements and engaged in other manipulative conduct, including by disguising the true sellers of securities, to defraud investors and generate illicit profits for themselves,” said Marc Berger, director of the SEC’s New York office.
The SEC noted that its investigation involved assistance from several Canadian regulators — including the Alberta Securities Commission, the British Columbia Securities Commission and the Ontario Securities Commission — along with the RCMP.
The SEC said it also received assistance form regulators in Cyprus, Hong Kong, Malta, Mauritius, New Zealand, Panama and Singapore.
“The charges here highlight our work with overseas securities regulators to root out players who use microcap markets to take advantage of U.S. investors,” said Paul Levenson, director of the SEC’s Boston office.
The SEC is seeking permanent injunctions, disgorgement of allegedly ill-gotten gains plus interest, penalties and penny stock bans.