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by Mike Caswell
Andrew McAlpine, a Canadian facing charges in the United States for a $6.6-million pump-and-dump scheme, has agreed to plead guilty. (All figures are in U.S. dollars.) Prosecutors in California claim that Mr. McAlpine, 47, used offshore accounts to help manipulate a supposed cellphone developer called Argus Worldwide Inc. while he secretly dumped the stock for others. Spam e-mails predicted investors would see the company "soaring by over 200%," but the stock was quickly worthless.
Mr. McAlpine is scheduled to enter his guilty plea in an appearance on April 22, 2021, before a federal judge in San Diego. His plea agreement is not yet public, but such agreements usually include a term specifying that a defendant must co-operate with prosecutors, with that co-operation to include testifying against others. In some instances, the sentencing recommendation of prosecutors is linked to the extent of that co-operation.
The plea comes with two of Mr. McAlpine's co-defendants still wanted in the U.S. for the scheme. These are Ontario securities lawyer Ashmit Patel, 36, and Ottawa resident Michael Wexler, 74. Awaiting trial is Washington State resident Ongkaruck Sripetch (also known as "King Richard"), who ran a touting website called Stockpalooza.com. Authorities arrested him at the outset of the case, and he subsequently pleaded not guilty.
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