The SEC has obtained an asset freeze against three individuals, including two formerly barred brokers, who allegedly targeted more than 100 retail investors, the regulator says.
The Honorable Judge Cecilia Altonaga of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted the SEC’s request for a temporary asset freeze and a temporary restraining order against NIT Enterprises, NIT’s CEO Gary Smith, Jason Ganton and James Cleary, Jr., according to a press release from the SEC.
The defendants allegedly raised $4.9 million by misrepresenting to investors that NIT was raising funds to develop radiation protection products for medical and military applications, the regulator says. In reality, however, Smith allegedly misappropriated $1.25 million to cover personal expenses and NIT and Smith paid 25% of the proceeds in undisclosed commissions, according to the press release.
The complaint also charges all three individual defendants with acting, directly or indirectly, as unregistered broker-dealers and violating the SEC’s previous orders. The regulator alleges that Ganton and Cleary, with Smith’s knowledge, hid their disciplinary histories and previous SEC actions and bars, including Ganton using an alias to solicit investors, according to the press releases.
The SEC barred Ganton in September 2016, ordered him to pay disgorgement of $155,600 and fines of more than $10,000 for his role in raising around $11 million from more than 400 investors through an “unregistered offer and sale of securities,” according to his BrokerCheck profile.
The regulator barred Cleary the same month for his role in the scheme, ordering him to pay $143,250 in disgorgement and close to $11,000 in penalties, according to his BrokerCheck profile.
The SEC’s complaint seeks injunctions, civil penalties and disgorgement.