The Securities and Exchange Commission charged two men alleged to have profited from illegal sales of stock of a company claiming to have a blockchain-related business.
According to the SEC’s complaint, attorney T.J. Jesky and his law firm’s business affairs manager, Mark F. DeStefano, made approximately $1.4 million by selling shares in UBI Blockchain Internet over a 10-day period from December 26, 2017 to January 5, 2018. The sales stopped when the SEC temporarily suspended trading in UBI Blockchain stock earlier this year due to concerns about the accuracy of assertions in its SEC filings and unusual and unexplained market activity.
“This case is a prime example of why the SEC has warned retail investors to be cautious before buying stock in companies that suddenly claim to have a blockchain business,” said Robert A. Cohen, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit. “This case involved both a trading suspension and people holding restricted shares who attempted to profit from the dramatic price increase with illegal stock sales that violated the registration statement.”
The SEC’s complaint alleges that Jesky and DeStefano, both residents of Nevada, received 72,000 restricted shares of UBI Blockchain stock in October 2017 and were permitted to sell the shares at a fixed price of $3.70 per share under the registration statement. Instead, the complaint alleges that Jesky and DeStefano unlawfully sold the shares at much higher market prices – ranging from $21.12 to $48.40 – when UBI Blockchain’s stock experienced an unusual price spike.
The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal court in New York, charges Jesky and DeStefano with violating the registration provisions of the federal securities laws. Without admitting or denying the allegations in the SEC’s complaint, Jesky and DeStefano agreed to return approximately $1.4 million of allegedly ill-gotten gains, pay $188,682 in penalties and be subject to permanent injunctions. The settlement is subject to the court’s approval.