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by Mike Caswell
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has halted Vitality Biopharma Inc., an OTCQB listing with links to the Vancouver area. The SEC says that there are questions about undisclosed control persons and cites a potential manipulation of the stock. A halt is necessary to protect investors, according to the SEC.
Vitality Biopharma touts itself as a developer of "cannabinoid prodrug pharmaceuticals," making products that treat pain and other ailments. The halt comes just two weeks after the company said that it had arranged an $8.5-million financing. (All figures are in U.S. dollars.) The stock has been active under its present symbol for about two years, and has a 52-week low of $1.05 and a high of $2.37.
The SEC has not given any specifics of the manipulative activity, but Vitality Biopharma did have the misfortune of appearing in a recent regulatory action targeting a U.K. man, Roger "Rocket" Knox. The SEC and prosecutors in Boston claim that Mr. Knox ran an offshore operation that allowed insiders to secretly dump shares in the midst of touting campaigns. One of the many companies that the SEC listed in the case is Vitality Biopharma. According to a complaint that the SEC filed against Mr. Knox on Oct. 2, 2018, somebody transferred shares amounting to 45 per cent of Vitality Biopharma's outstanding total to Mr. Knox's operation in 2015. Mr. Knox used 20 nominees to "aggregate" those shares, the SEC said.
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