Brian Pardo, CEO of Life Partners Holdings, Inc. (“Life Partners”) (Nasdaq GS: LPHI), parent company of Life Partners, Inc., announced today that an independent investigation has uncovered substantial evidence of coordinated market manipulation and naked short selling of Life Partners’s stock in and around September 26, 2012. As a result of this investigation, he has filed a whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against a number of persons and entities suspected of illegal short-selling activities. Pardo has filed the complaint on Life Partners’ behalf since SEC regulations require that only individual, natural persons can file such complaints.
The investigation was conducted by former SEC Senior Counsel and noted whistleblower, Gary Aguirre. Mr. Aguirre, who has testified before the Senate regarding how politically influential individuals and Wall Street firms taint the SEC’s enforcement decisions, has been an outspoken critic against abusive short selling and the lack of SEC enforcement against this illegal activity.
Naked short selling is the practice of short selling a company’s stock without first borrowing the security as required in a legitimate short sale. Because shares are not borrowed, naked short selling is similar to counterfeiting as it can make a company appear to have many more stockholders selling shares than are actually being sold. In 2008, the SEC banned “abusive naked short selling” as a method of driving down share prices. This abusive tactic is used, often in conjunction with the dissemination of negative rumors, to drive down a company’s stock price for the profit of the short sellers. It can also result in massive job losses, substantial financial losses to legitimate shareholders and ultimately the destruction of companies.
In his complaint, Pardo describes Life Partners as a microcap stock with 18.4 million issued shares. Pardo holds more of than half of these shares, which are unavailable for trading. Accordingly, Life Partners has less than 9.2 million shares available for trading and usually less than one million shares are available for borrowing. In the 12-month period before September 2012, Life Partners’s stock had an average daily trading volume of 112,000 shares.
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