Taxicab Lender Manipulated Its Valuation and Touted Stock Illegally: SEC

This story was current at eleven:34 a.m. Jap to incorporate a assertion from the corporation.

When trip-sharing firms like Uber and Lyft decimated the taxi marketplaces in significant metropolitan areas, the organization of lending to taxicab proprietors and operators fell by means of the ground. Medallion Money, whose core organization was making financial loans backed by taxicab medallions (essentially, functioning permits), noticed its inventory rate nosedive.

To arrest the slipping shares, among 2014 and 2017 Medallion Money and its president and COO, Andrew Murstein, devised two schemes that ran afoul of U.S. securities regulations, according to a grievance filed by the Securities and Exchange Fee.

To start with, in 2015 Medallion and Murstein hired a “stealth” general public relations business, Ichabod’s Cranium, to put up beneficial tales about the corporation and tout its inventory. The posts, some showing on Huffington Submit, Searching for Alpha, and, utilised pretend identities, and the payments to the media relations business ended up not disclosed. The promoters of Medallion’s stock also did not disclose their affiliation with the corporation.

“Murstein allegedly paid out for a lot more than 50 articles or blog posts and hundreds of beneficial responses, which ended up seriously paid out advertisements positioned across the web in an exertion to deceive investors about the benefit of Medallion’s inventory,” said Richard Most effective, director of the New York regional place of work.

2nd, Medallion and Murstein fraudulently increased the carrying benefit of Medallion Financial institution, a subsidiary of Medallion Money, to offset losses relating to the taxicab medallion financial loans. The SEC alleges that when the company’s current valuation business refused to cave to Murstein’s stress to boost the bank’s valuation, Murstein fired the business and hired an financial commitment bank to provide an inflated valuation of the bank.

“Murstein quickly located an financial commitment bank that was lured by his quid professional quo provide: provide the requested valuation variety in trade for considerably a lot more rewarding financial commitment banking operate in the future,” according to the SEC grievance.

Claimed Most effective: “Companies … can not shop for higher valuations when there is no evidence to guidance them.”

Irrespective of the deteriorating benefit of the collateral securing the bank’s personal loan portfolio, Medallion’s valuation jumped from $166 million in the 2nd quarter of 2016 to $290 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The SEC charged that Medallion also manufactured wrong statements in its SEC filings as to why the firm’s valuation increased, proclaiming that there ended up events intrigued in obtaining the bank and that a “court ruling involving a market lender” had heightened the fascination of opportunity merger partners.

In a assertion produced the day the costs ended up manufactured general public, Medallion Money stated: “We intend to vigorously defend in opposition to the SEC’s unfounded costs and are assured we will be fully vindicated. … We consider that none of the allegations in the SEC grievance gives rise to a securities violation and are assured that the complete record will clearly show that Medallion Money Corp. and Andrew Murstein complied with the law.”

The corporation stated that its actions ended up developed to provide an accurate knowledge of the company’s economical placement and a transparent valuation at a time when “short-sellers ended up engaged in an on the web marketing campaign to travel down the company’s inventory rate for their private gain.”

Medallion mentioned also that “the SEC does not even allege that the company’s actions had any current market influence by any means on the rate of Medallion inventory and Murstein has never ever sold a single share of Medallion inventory.”

The SEC charged Murstein and Medallion with violating the antifraud, textbooks and data, internal controls, and anti-touting provisions of federal securities regulations. Murstein is also charged with making wrong statements to Medallion’s auditor.

The grievance also costs Ichabod’s Cranium and its owner, Lawrence Meyers, with touting and fraud. The SEC seeks long term injunctions, disgorgement moreover prejudgment fascination, and civil penalties. In addition, the SEC seeks an officer-and-director bar in opposition to Murstein.

Medallion Money, SEC, Stock Promoter, taxi medallions