SEC obtains freeze on assets in apparent penny-stock scam |

SEC obtains freeze on assets in apparent penny-stock scam

WASHINGTON – Federal regulators obtained an emergency court order freezing the U.S. brokerage account of an offshore entity that allegedly manipulated shares of Cameron International Inc., whose price quickly soared from pennies to $90 a share for no apparent reason.A federal court judge in Manhattan agreed to a request to freeze $1.4 million of assets in a brokerage account of Socius Holdings Ltd., a British Virgin Islands firm that operates out of Geneva, Switzerland, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday.According to the SEC, Cameron describes itself as a development-stage company with no significant operations since its formation in December 1999. On Sept. 30, the company’s assets consisted of $1,395 in cash. Its stock trades on the over-the-counter Bulletin Board.The SEC claims Socius and other companies and individuals engaged in a series of “wash” sales designed to create the appearance of fast-moving market demand for Cameron shares, causing the penny stock to reach $90 in two months.It filed fraud charges against several defendants, including Socius director Peter Jessop, and is seeking to order them to pay fines, return allegedly ill-gotten gains, and be barred from future violations.The SEC halted trading in Cameron on Nov. 7, citing the dramatic price hike and concerns about the accuracy of information on the company.Laurent Sacharoff, a New York attorney representing Jessop and Socius, wasn’t immediately available to comment.Vail, Colorado

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