SEC Halts Trading in 15 Firms Due to Questionable Market Moves

The SEC on Friday suspended trading in the securities of 15 companies because of what it called questionable trading stemming from social media activity.
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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday halted trading in 15 companies, which the agency said was an effort to protect investors from a "coordinated attempt" on social media to "artificially influence their share prices."

The SEC said none of the 15 companies, which are traded on OTC Link, have filed any information with the regulator for more than a year.

The SEC's decision to suspend the trading activity comes when the Reddit-fueled trading in GameStop  (GME) - Get Report and other companies has lawmakers worried.

The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services last week conducted an extensive hearing into the trading frenzy.

The order the SEC issued on Friday stated that questions have arisen regarding "the recent, increased activity and volatility in trading in the securities of each of these issuers, in the absence of any publicly available news or recent information by these issuers; and certain social media accounts may be engaged in a coordinated attempt to artificially influence their share prices."

"The SEC's recent suspensions of trading in nearly two dozen securities -- including 15 today -- are one facet of our ongoing efforts to police the market and protect investors," Melissa Hodgman, acting director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement said in a statement.

"We proactively monitor for suspicious trading activity tied to stock promotions on social media, and act quickly to stop that trading when appropriate to safeguard the public interest," Hodgman added.

Under the federal securities laws, "the SEC can suspend trading in a stock for 10 days and generally prohibit a broker-dealer from soliciting investors to buy or sell the stock again until certain reporting requirements are met," the agency said.

The companies in which trading was suspended are:

Bebida Beverage BBDA; Blue Sphere BLSP; Ehouse Global EHOS; Eventure Interactive EVTI; Eyes on the Go AXCG, Green Energy Enterprises GYOG, Helix Wind HLXW; International Power Group IPWG, Marani Brands MRIB, MediaTechnics MEDT, Net Talk.com NTLK, Patten Energy Solutions Group PTTN, PTA Holdings PTAH, Universal Apparel & Textile DKGR, and Wisdom Homes of America WOFA.

Trading in the companies was suspended today and will remain so through Thursday, March 11, according to the agency's order.