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Two men get US prison terms for US$250m stock fraud scheme

[NEW YORK] Two men were sentenced to lengthy US prison terms on Monday for conspiring to launder US$250 million earned by manipulating shares of over 40 companies, including little-known Cynk Technology Corp, whose value soared past US$6 billion.

Gregg Mulholland, a dual US-Canadian citizen who prosecutors said orchestrated a series of pump-and-dump stock fraud schemes, was sentenced by US District Judge Leo Glasser in Brooklyn to 12 years in prison.

Judge Glasser imposed a six-year prison sentence on Robert Bandfield, a US citizen living in Belize who prosecutors said oversaw an offshore operation that facilitated numerous fraud schemes through the creation of thousands of shell companies.

In court, Mulholland, who has been in custody since being arrested in June 2015 during a layover in Phoenix on a flight from Canada to Mexico, urged the judge to be lenient so that he could see his daughters and wife in Canada again.

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"I'm sorry comes nowhere close to saying how truly sorry I have," said Mulholland, who like Bandfield pleaded guilty in May to conspiring to commit money laundering.

But Judge Glasser said Mulholland, 47, should have known the consequences of his actions, having engaged in the fraud soon after resolving an earlier US Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit accusing him of similar conduct.

"Not only was this a crime, this offence, one that persisted over a number of years, but you were a recidivist, user were a securities fraudster before you got involved here," Judge Glassers said.

US regulators in July 2014 suspended trading in Cynk, a social media company with no revenue or assets, after its share price soared in less than a month to US$21.95 from 6 cents for no apparent reason.

Prosecutors said Cynk was among about 40 companies whose shares were manipulated by individuals overseen by Mulholland, resulting in US$250 million in proceeds that were laundered through offshore law firms.

Prosecutors said Mulholland and his group of stock manipulators conducted the scheme through shell structures and offshore brokerage firms established by Bandfield, a former dentist who founded Belize-based IPC Corporate Services.

Prosecutors said through IPC, Bandfield, 72, marketed a host of offshore services to more than 100 clients including Mulholland, who used the more than 5,000 sham companies he incorporated to facilitate securities and tax frauds.

The brokerage firms he established included Panana-based Legacy Global Markets SA, which Mulholland bought and secretly owned in 2012, prosecutors said.

REUTERS

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