Scheme involves the stock of Jammin’ Java, a company that operates as Marley Coffee and uses trademarks of late reggae artist Bob Marley to sell coffee products.
Washington DC – infoZine – The Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday announced fraud charges against several alleged perpetrators behind a $78 million pump-and-dump scheme involving the stock of Jammin’ Java, a company that operates as Marley Coffee and uses trademarks of late reggae artist Bob Marley to sell coffee products.
The SEC alleges that Jammin Java’s former CEO Shane Whittle orchestrated the scheme with three others who live abroad and operate entities offshore. Whittle utilized a reverse merger to secretly gain control of millions of Jammin Java shares, and he spread the stock to the offshore entities controlled by Wayne Weaver of the UK and Canada, Michael Sun of India, and René Berlinger of Switzerland. The shares were later dumped on the unsuspecting public after the stock price soared following fraudulent promotional campaigns.
Charged with fraudulently promoting Jammin’ Java stock to investors are British twin brothers Alexander Hunter and Thomas Hunter, who were previously charged in a separate SEC case for touting multiple penny stocks using a fake stock picking robot. Others charged in the SEC’s complaint with facilitating the illegal offering through their offshore entities are UK citizens Stephen Wheatley and Kevin Miller and Oman resident Mohammed Al-Barwani.
The SEC’s complaint charges Jammin’ Java, Whittle, Weaver, Sun, Berlinger, Wheatley, Miller, and Al-Barwani with conducting an illegal offering in violation of Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act of 1933. The complaint further alleges that Whittle, Weaver, Sun, Berlinger, and the Hunters violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, and Whittle, Weaver, Sun, and Berlinger violated Section 13(d) of the Exchange Act and Rules 13d-1 and 13d-2. Whittle is additionally charged with violating Section 16(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule 16a-3, and the Hunters are charged with violations of Sections 17(b) of the Securities Act, which prohibits fraudulent touting of stock.
The SEC is seeking injunctions, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and penalties as well as penny stock bars against all of the individuals and an officer-and-director bar against Whittle.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Kathryn A. Pyszka and Paul M. G. Helms in the Chicago office, and the litigation will be led by John E. Birkenheier and Timothy S. Leiman. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the British Columbia Securities Commission, the Capital Markets Board of Turkey, the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, the Jersey Financial Services Commission, the Mexican Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores, the Ontario Securities Commission, the Republic of the Marshall Islands Banking Commission, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, and the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority.