Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Monday, March 28, 2011

SEC Charges Stock Promoters with Market Manipulation

The SEC announced that it filed a civil injunctive action against Joseph Catapano ("Catapano") and Michael Piervinanzi ("Piervinanzi"), alleging that they engaged in a fraudulent broker bribery scheme designed to manipulate the market for the common stock of Euro Solar Parks, Inc. ("Euro Solar").  The complaint, filed on March 25, 2011 in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, alleges that beginning in at least February 2011, Catapano and Piervinanzi engaged in an undisclosed kickback arrangement with an individual ("Individual A") who claimed to represent a group of registered representatives with trading discretion over the accounts of wealthy customers. Catapano and Piervinanzi promised to pay a 30% kickback to Individual A and the registered representatives he purported to represent in exchange for the purchase of up to $3 million of Euro Solar stock through the customers' accounts.

The complaint further alleges that from February 16-18, 2011, Catapano instructed Individual A to purchase approximately 130,000 shares of Euro Solar stock for a total of approximately $31,000 through matched trades using detailed instructions concerning the size, price and timing of the purchase orders. Thereafter, Catapano paid Individual A a bribe of $8,800.

The Commission seeks permanent injunctive relief from the Defendants, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, if any, plus pre-judgment interest, and civil penalties from Catapano and Piervinanzi, and a judgment prohibiting Piervinanzi from participating in any offering of penny stock.

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