November 15, 2004
Vancouver – The British Columbia Securities Commission has ruled that a jailed U.S. stock promoter manipulated securities markets in the United States and committed fraud in B.C. to illegally garner US$36-million.
A commission panel permanently banned Edward Andrew Durante (also known as Ed Simmons) from securities trading in B.C. and ordered that he pay the maximum administrative penalty for individuals of Cdn$250,000. The commission prohibited Durante from being a director or officer of any issuer, and from engaging in investor relations activities. He must also pay hearing costs.
Durante, who is currently in jail in Pennsylvania, U.S., is a stock promoter and former registered securities professional who lived in the state of New York. He was found to have manipulated the stock of three companies – WAMEX Holdings, Inc., Absolutefutures.com, and UN Dollars Corp. -- all listed on the U.S. Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board quotation system. The manipulative trading was done through accounts held by offshore corporations at Union Securities Ltd., a Vancouver investment dealer. The manipulation included false and misleading news releases about the three companies. In total, Durante’s schemes netted illegal profits of US$36-million with over US$17-million transferred to a Bank of Montreal account in Vancouver held by Exchange Bank and Trust, Inc., a private international bank incorporated in the Republic of Nauru.
“Manipulation and fraud is serious misconduct,” said the panel in rendering its decision.
“Durante and the offshore corporations knowingly manipulated markets in the U.S., and committed fraud, through trading accounts at an investment dealer registered in British Columbia. They were significantly enriched by their misconduct.
“Their conduct is serious; they have harmed investors, and have damaged the integrity of British Columbia’s capital markets. They are not fit to participate in our capital markets.”
The commission also permanently cease traded the securities of Berkshire Capital Partners, Inc., Commonwealth Associates, Ltd., Dottenhoff Financial, Ltd., and Galton Scott & Golett Inc. (the offshore corporations involved in the schemes). The commission ordered each corporation to pay the maximum administrative penalty for corporations of Cdn$500,000 and to pay hearing costs.
The commission found that Gillian Hobson, of St. Kitts & Nevis, acted contrary to the public interest. Hobson served as operations manager and a member of the board of directors of EBT. Hobson opened trading accounts at Union Securities for Durante and she knew he was concealing his involvement through his use of the alias “Ed Simmons” as the trading authority on the accounts. On Durante’s instructions, she carried out trades in the accounts.
The commission barred Hobson for five years from trading securities, from being a director or officer of any issuer, and from engaging in any investor relations activities. She must also pay a portion of the hearing costs.
“Hobson was in a position where her conduct could have either assisted or frustrated Durante’s activities,” said the panel. “She chose to conduct herself in a manner that assisted him. The impact on others as a result of her conduct appears to have been indirect, but her conduct was essential to the manipulation and fraud.”
U.S. authorities have also acted on the manipulations. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began civil actions against Durante in October 2001 that led to default judgments ordering him to disgorge his ill-gotten gains. The U.S. Attorney’s Office also charged Durante -- who pled guilty -- with securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The B.C. Securities Commission is an independent provincial government agency responsible for regulating trading in securities within the province.The decision
can be accessed through the commission’s website www.bcsc.bc.ca or by contacting Andrew Poon, Media Relations, 604-899-6880.