Monday, May 14, 2012
The SEC suspended trading in the securities of 379 dormant companies because of concern that they could be hijacked by fraudsters and used to harm investors through reverse mergers or pump-and-dump schemes. The SEC website sets forth the names of all 379 companies. The trading suspension marks the most companies ever suspended in a single day by the agency. An initiative tabbed Operation Shell-Expel by the SEC's Microcap Fraud Working Group utilized various agency resources including the enhanced intelligence technology of the Enforcement Division's Office of Market Intelligence to scrutinize microcap stocks in the markets nationwide and identify clearly dormant shell companies in 32 states and six foreign countries that were ripe for potential fraud.
The federal securities laws allow the SEC to suspend trading in any stock for up to 10 business days. Subject to certain exceptions and exemptions, once a company is suspended from trading, it cannot be quoted again until it provides updated information including accurate financial statements.