SLJB: Former CEO Petar Vucicevich convicted in stock scam case
Essex County man convicted in stock scam case
By Gary Rennie, The Windsor Star - September 15, 2010
TORONTO After almost four years, the first convictions were handed down Tuesday in a local “pump and dump” stock scheme that defrauded hundreds of penny stock investors across North America.
Colchester Village resident Petar Vucicevich was found guilty of securities fraud for his role in the scheme that fraudulently hyped a tiny Harrow lumberyard as a world player in Middle Eastern construction projects and cement deals in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Vucicevich received close to $4 million out of the stock sales, according to an uncontested statement of facts placed before an Ontario Securities Commission panel.
The OSC also convicted two other Windsor-area participants — Tracey Banumas and Pranab Shah — for lesser roles in the stock scheme. Neither contested the statement of facts filed that outlined their roles in the market manipulation of the Sulja stock.
Hundreds of small investors lost thousands of dollars when they were convinced to buy shares in Sulja Bros. Building Supplies Ltd., a company incorporated in Nevada, but bearing the name of the Harrow lumberyard that had sold building products on a regional basis for more than 20 years.
The stock price collapsed in late 2006 in the wake of the company’s failure to produce a long-promised audited financial statement and The Star’s story of an RCMP investigation into the claims of big deals.
Vucicevich, Banumas and Shah will be sentenced at a later date. Vucicevich is also facing a criminal fraud trial in early 2011 as a result of an RCMP investigation.
The OSC hearing is continuing Sept 24 against some of the participants who didn’t show up at the start of the hearing Monday.
Evidence against Steve Sulja, Sam Sulja and a Texan named Andrew DeVries, and some of the companies involved, will still be produced in their absence.
Vucicevich was at one time the CEO of the Sulja public company incorporated in Nevada, but Steve Sulja later took that position. Adding to the confusion of investors in the penny stock markets were two other privately held Ontario incorporated companies using the Sulja name, but never merged with the publicly traded company.
Another company controlled by Vucicevich – Kore International Management Inc. – was also charged in the stock fraud. All of the Sulja and Kore companies ceased operations amid the scrutiny of an 18-month OSC investigation and interim orders.
Vucicevich, who defended himself, told OSC commissioner Patrick Lesage Tuesday that he preferred to be sentenced after all the evidence about the scheme had been submitted and the roles of each participant made clearer.
The stock has been virtually worthless for years, typically trading in low volumes for less than a cent a share. At the peak of the hype, the price got up to about 21 cents a share.
© Copyright (c) The Windsor Star