US securities regulators sued a Bulgarian investor Thursday for allegedly orchestrating bogus acquisition bids for Avon and two other companies in a stock-rigging scheme.
Nedko Nedev, 37, of Sofia, Bulgaria, is charged with engineering a fake bid for Avon on May 14, 2015 via a company calling itself PTG Capital, the US Securities and Exchange Commission said in a US lawsuit filed in New York.
"There is no indication that PTG Capital is a legitimate company organized for any other reason than the stock manipulation scheme described here," the suit said.
The bid lifted Avon shares by 20 percent in intraday trading and led volume in Avon shares to jump 448 percent, the complaint said.
Nedev, trading from Bulgaria, gained $4,879 due to the jump in Avon shares.
In the other two cases, Nedev also scored stock gains on a fraudulent press release and a fraudulent securities submission each declaring bogus bids for companies, according to the suit.
A May 2014 fake bid for the insurer the Tower Group came from an outfit calling itself Euroins Insurance and yielded $23,368, the SEC said.
A December 2012 fake bid for the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company came from an entity calling itself PST Capital. The bid though did not drive the share price high enough for Nedev to take a profit, the SEC suggested.
The suit did not tie Nedev directly to the takeover announcements, but said it was "highly unlikely that Nedev's trading was mere coincidence."
It pointed to the parallel trading and takeover actions, the common Bulgaria links of many of the entities involved, and other similarities.
"These facts demonstrate that Nedev or others working with him are coordinating this market manipulation from Bulgaria," it said.
The SEC asked the court to freeze Nedev's accounts and order him to disgorge ill-gotten gains and impose civil penalties.