Securities

Montréal - The Autorité des marchés financiers ("AMF") has launched a joint penal proceeding against 13 defendants (11 individuals and 2 companies) allegedly involved in market manipulation activities that took place between 2008 and 2012 in violation of the Securities Act.

The scam
The defendants took part in a pump and dump scam, in which they influenced the market price or the value of microcap securities listed on U.S. over-the-counter markets, including the shares of Spencer Pharmaceutical Inc., Energy 1 Corp., Andes Gold Corporation, Kender Energy Inc. and Wanderport Corporation.

The manipulation methods consisted of promoting the activities or growth potential of the above-mentioned companies via the publication of false and misleading information in press releases, on social media and other on-line channels.

Some of the scammers bet on the ensuing market activity to boost the share value of the target companies before selling their own shares at a hefty profit. The investigation shows that transaction proceeds related to certain violations referred to in the proceedings amount to a total of over $10 million.

The defendants
Jean-François Amyot faces 10 charges, of which five pertain to conspiracy to influence or attempt to influence the market price or the value of a security and five relate to market manipulation. Considered the ringleader of the presumed scam, Jean-François Amyot was president of Hilbroy Advisory Inc., and a director of IAB Media Inc. These two companies are each charged with market manipulation. Jean-François Amyot faces freeze and cease trading orders issued in 2011 in connection with activities related to the securities of Wanderport Corp. and to IAB Media and Hilbroy Advisory.

Francis Mailhot faces eight charges, including three for conspiracy and five for market manipulation. He was president or director of companies allegedly involved in the scam, including Rainmaker Venture Capital Inc. and Hyper Growth Stock Publications Inc. He is also considered Jean-François Amyot's business partner.

Ian Morrice acted as consultant for Hilbroy Advisory and faces two charges, i.e. one for conspiracy and the other for market manipulation.

François Vallet was involved with IAB Media and Hilbroy Advisory in various capacities. He faces seven charges, including two for conspiracy and five for market manipulation activities.

Eric Boyd also acted as consultant for Hilbroy Advisory and is named in two of the market manipulation activity charges.

Marc Gagnon The respondent Marc Gagnon should not be confused with Marc Gagnon, representative attached to Industrielle Alliance, Assurance et services financiers inc. in insurance of persons, group insurance plans and financial planning and holder of certificate 113 466, who is not covered by this news release. The respondent Marc Gagnon should not be confused with Marc Gagnon, independent representative in insurance of persons, group insurance of persons and financial planning, and holder of certificate 113 467, who also acts on behalf of the firm Services en placements Peak inc. as a dealing representative of a mutual fund dealer and holds registration 1579 581, who is not covered by this news release. The respondent Marc Gagnon should not be confused with Marc Gagnon, representative acting on behalf of the firm Industrielle Alliance, Gestion de placements inc. as an advising representative of a portfolio manager and holder of registration 1362 021, who is not covered by this news release.  and Robert Fagan each face one charge for market manipulation.

As well, as an officer of Downshire Capital and Meadow Vista Financial Corporation, Carol McKeown faces a charge for market manipulation. She also faces freeze and cease trading orders issued in 2010 (pdf - 36 KB)This link will open in a new window.

Daniel F. Ryan, Carol McKeown's spouse, also faces three charges, including two for market manipulation activities and one for conspiracy. He is also subject to the same orders as those against Carol McKeown.

Andrew Barakett faces two charges, one for market manipulation activities and the other for conspiracy. Note that Andrew Barakett faces a cease trading order issued in 2011 for activities related to the securities of Wanderport Corp.

Lastly, Michael Raso Cortellazzi faces one charge for market manipulation activities.

The Autorité des marchés financiers (the AMF) is the regulatory and oversight body for Québec's financial sector.

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