The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Billionaire Phillip Frost with participating in a classic pump-and-dump scheme. The Miami resident and founder of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science made his billions through his large pharmaceutical company OPKO Health. The charge suggests that Frost and 9 other investors participated in the scheme from 2013 to 2018 and accuses the participants of manipulating stock prices of three companies. Once they managed to raise the prices, they would sell off their shares and leave a loss for the resident investors.
Sanjar Wadhwa, the senior associate director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, issued the following statement:
“[The group charged] engaged in brazen market manipulation that advanced their financial interests while fleecing innocent investors and undermining the integrity of our securities markets. They failed to appreciate, however, the SEC’s resolve to relentlessly pursue and punish participants in microcap fraud schemes.”
The SEC claims that Frost profited $1.1 million through the scheme. Frost’s net-worth sits at around $2.6 billion.
OPKO, Frost’s company, issued the following statement after the indictment on Friday:
“Had the SEC followed its own standard procedures, OPKO and Dr. Frost would gladly have provided information that would have answered a number of the SEC’s apparent questions, and filing of this lawsuit against them could have been avoided. OPKO and Dr. Frost have always prided themselves on adhering to the highest standards of financial disclosure, and they are confident that once a proper investigation is completed and the facts of the case have been fully disclosed, the matter will be resolved favorably for them.”
The SEC believes that the scheme was orchestrated by Barry Honig, a Florida businessman who is a large shareholder of Riot Blockchain Inc. stock.
The SEC added:
“Honig was the primary strategist, calling upon other Defendants to buy or sell stock, arrange for the issuance of shares, negotiate transactions, or engage in promotional activity.”
Honig did not comment.