Wednesday, April 11, 2007
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced the institution of administrative and cease-and-desist proceedings against Winter Park, Fla.-based Park Financial Group, Inc. and its principal, Gordon Cantley. In the Order Instituting Proceedings, the Division of Enforcement alleges that Park and Cantley aided and abetted and caused a pump-and-dump scheme involving the securities of Spear & Jackson, Inc. and failed to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) reporting suspicious transactions, in violation of the firm's record-keeping obligations.
The Order alleges that between February 2002 and July 2003, Park, a registered broker-dealer with a disciplinary history, and Cantley executed numerous trades in Spear & Jackson stock, despite obvious red flags, for three companies located in the British Virgin Islands (BVI Companies), which Crowley secretly controlled. Specifically, on several occasions, Crowley gave Park and Cantley sell orders for the BVI Companies' accounts. Park and Cantley filled these orders even though each of these foreign-based accounts, which were rare for Park, required the written approval of at least two authorized individuals before any transaction could occur, and Crowley was not an authorized signatory. Moreover, Park and Cantley executed Crowley's trades knowing that he was the chief executive officer of Spear & Jackson and that the BVI Companies' accounts traded exclusively in Spear & Jackson stock, often buying and selling shares on a daily basis. Park and Cantley also knew that the BVI Companies were transferring large amounts of Spear & Jackson stock to a stock promoter, which was actively promoting Spear & Jackson, and Spear & Jackson's stock price was sharply increasing. During the relevant time period, Park and Cantley executed more than 200 trades in Spear & Jackson stock for the BVI Companies' accounts, which generated approximately $2.5 million in proceeds. See SEC Institutes Enforcement Action Alleging Broker-Dealer and Its Principal Aided and Abetted Pump-and-Dump Scheme and Failed to File Suspicious Activity Reports Required by Bank Secrecy Act.