Former Vice President of Publicly Traded Company Charged with Orchestrating $100 Million Securities Fraud Scheme
A former vice president of U.S. operations at a now-defunct publicly traded Canadian oil-services company was indicted with orchestrating a scheme to fraudulently inflate the company’s reported revenue by approximately $100 million.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Inspector in Charge Terrence P. McKeown of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS) Washington, D.C., Division made the announcement.
Joseph A. Kostelecky, 55, of Dickinson, North Dakota, was charged in an indictment filed yesterday in the District of North Dakota with five counts of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud for his alleged role in the scheme. Kostelecky, who previously worked at Poseidon Concepts Corporation’s field office in Dickinson, made his initial appearance earlier today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles S. Miller Jr. of the District of North Dakota.
“The defendant is charged with a $100 million fraud that led to the collapse of an entire company and harm to thousands of individual investors,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Today’s indictment again makes clear the department's commitment to protecting the investing public against those who manipulate the markets to enrich themselves.”
“Postal Inspectors will continue to aggressively protect the U.S. mail from being used by fraudsters to further their stock market manipulation schemes,” said Inspector in Charge McKeown.
The indictment alleges that between November 2011 and December 2012, Kostelecky, the sole executive in Poseidon Concepts Corporation’s U.S. division, engaged in conduct that caused the company to falsely report approximately $100 million in revenue from purported contracts with oil and natural gas companies. Kostelecky’s alleged misconduct included fraudulently directing the company’s accounting staff at the U.S. corporate headquarters in Denver to record revenue from such contracts and then assuring management that the associated revenue was collectable, when he knew that such contracts either did not exist or that the associated revenue was not collectable.
When the inflated revenue came to light at the end of 2012, the company’s stock fell precipitously, with shares losing close to $1 billion in value, and the company was forced into bankruptcy. The indictment alleges that Kostelecky perpetrated the scheme in order to inflate the value of the company’s stock price and to enrich himself through the continued receipt of compensation and appreciation of his own stock and stock options.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the USPIS Washington, D.C. Division. Trial Attorneys Anna G. Kaminska and Henry P. Van Dyck of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of North Dakota provided assistance in this matter.
The Fraud Section plays a pivotal role in the Department of Justice’s fight against white collar crime around the country. Today’s indictment is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants, including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.