SEC uncovers US solar investment scam



The US Securities and Exchange Commission has lodged charges against a company that it claims sought to dupe investors into backing a non-existent solar plant joint venture.

In a statement yesterday, the SEC claimed MSGI Technology Solutions, a penny stock company, issued misleading information aimed at giving the impression the company was poised to become a big player in solar project development, when in fact it had no operations, customers or revenue.

The SEC alleges that MSGI’s chief executive, J Jeremy Barbera, and one Christopher Plummer, had put out press releases touting a joint venture to develop solar plants across the US on land owned by an electricity provider operated by Plummer.

Plummer had been previously charged by SEC in connection with another allegedly fraudulent venture.

“It is vital that information disseminated by a company into the marketplace be corroborated and truthful,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, senior associate director of the SEC’s New York regional office. “Barbera caused MSGI to issue press releases baselessly touting nonexistent assets and phony business opportunities, which had the harmful effect of misleading investors.”

In one example, the SEC said Barbera had falsely claimed in press releases that a sham company operated by Plummer had purchased MSGI’s sizeable outstanding debt, and touted non-existent PV projects.

Barbera agreed to settle the claim by paying a US$100,000 penalty, without either admitting to or denying the SEC’s charges.

He will be permanently barred from acting as an officer or director of a public company, or from participating in a penny stock offering, the SEC said.

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