by Mike Caswell
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil fraud charges against Quebec resident Jean-Francois Amyot and two other Canadians for the pump-and-dump of Spencer Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2010. The SEC claims that the men boosted the stock with false news about a $245-million takeover, while Mr. Amyot sold $5.8-million worth of shares. (All figures are in U.S. dollars.) The SEC is seeking a permanent penny stock ban and other sanctions for Mr. Amyot.
The allegations are contained in a complaint the SEC filed on Monday, Dec. 17, in the District of Massachusetts. According to the complaint, Mr. Amyot arranged for Spencer to falsely issue news about a 97-cent takeover offer for the company in November, 2010. The buyout was "pure fiction, but Amyot's profits from dumping Spencer stock were real," the complaint states. Over a six-month period, he unloaded 36 million shares, grossing $5.8-million, according to the SEC.
The complaint identifies Mr. Amyot, 40, as a resident of Quebec who may now live in the Bahamas. Also named is Hilbroy Advisory Inc., a private company that Mr. Amyot controls. (Hilbroy bills itself as an "advisory and consulting company" that helps companies go public, among other things. In 2009, it claimed to have aided over 50 private and public corporations.) The other defendants are Maximilien Arella, 56, of Montreal, and Ian Morrice, 52, of Ottawa. The men served as president and corporate secretary for Spencer, according to the complaint.