A 17 page complaint alleges firm’s CEO enriched himself by secretly selling stock in the firm

fraudThe U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a complaint in U.S. Federal District Court in Idaho against Alternative Energy Holdings Inc. (AEHI). The action alleges alleges that AEHI has raised millions of dollars from investors in Idaho and throughout the U.S. and Asia while fraudulently manipulating its stock price through misleading public statements that conceal the secret profits reaped by its CEO Donald L. Gillispie and Senior Vice President Jennifer Ransom. Full text of SEC complaint.

The SEC said Gillispie has touted the company as a tremendous investment opportunity that could rival Exxon Mobil in profitability, despite the fact that AEHI has essentially no revenue and minimal operations.

“In light of AEHI’s ongoing efforts to raise funding while promoting itself through a daily deluge of press releases, we needed to take immediate action to get to the bottom of the company’s misleading statements,” said Marc Fagel, Director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office. “Documents we have obtained to date indicate a scheme to personally enrich the CEO at the expense of investors.”

Press releases pumped stock

According to the SEC’s complaint, AEHI’s fundraising was facilitated by a scheme to drive up the company’s stock price, both through frequent press releases (at least 87 in 2010 alone) and efforts of paid stock promoters to manipulate the stock price.

The SEC alleges that the company has made multiple misrepresentations, including claims that its executives had such confidence in AEHI that they had not sold a single share of company stock. Records obtained by the SEC show that Gillispie and Ransom have instead secretly unloaded extensive stock holdings and funneled the money back to Gillispie.

The SEC’s complaint also alleges that AEHI reported to the SEC and investors that Gillispie’s compensation was $133,000. However, Gillispie has actually reaped approximately six times that amount in 2010.

The SEC’s complaint charges AEHI, Gillispie, and Ransom with violations of the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws, and names as defendants two companies controlled by Gillispie and Ransom (Executive Energy Consulting LLC and Bosco Financial LLC).

In a motion filed simultaneously with the enforcement action, the SEC seeks emergency relief for investors including an asset freeze and a temporary restraining order enjoining the defendants from further violations of the securities laws.

AEHI officials have not yet issued a statement in response to this latest action by the SEC.  Earlier this week the SEC ordered a halt to trading in the firm’s stock. 

AEHI confirmed on its website the initial action has taken place and said it would cooperate with the regulatory agency.  The complaint against AEHI is the first step in a long and complex legal proceeding which may or may not go to trial. 

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