Friday, February 26, 2010
The SEC announced that on February 12, 2010, after a three week jury trial prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, George Georgiou, of Toronto Ontario, was convicted of securities fraud, conspiracy, and wire fraud for his role in manipulating the market in four separate microcap stocks – Avicena Group, Inc., Neutron Enterprises, Inc., Hydrogen Hybrid Technologies, Inc., and Northern Ethanol, Inc. Sentencing is scheduled for May 7, 2010. Georgiou faces a maximum sentence of 165 years in prison and $21.25 million in fines.
The Commission previously filed a civil injunctive action against Georgiou based on similar conduct. According to the Commission’s complaint, from 2004 through September 2008, Georgiou, who controlled the publicly-traded stock of each company, manipulated the market for the purpose of artificially inflating each company’s stock price or to create the false appearance of an active and liquid market. In order to do so, Georgiou used many nominee accounts that he either directly or indirectly controlled at offshore broker-dealers and banks, and used a variety of manipulative techniques, including matched orders and wash sales. The Complaint alleges that ultimately, Georgiou realized at least $20.9 million in ill-gotten gains from his manipulation schemes through sales of artificially inflated stock and by using the artificially inflated stock as collateral to fraudulently obtain “margin” and other cash loans from Bahamian brokerage firms. The Commission’s action, filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on February 12, 2009 seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, civil penalties, and a penny stock bar against Georgiou. The action has been stayed pending resolution of the criminal charges.