Securities Trader Indicted In Scheme That Netted Tens Of Millions Of Dollars In Illicit Profits
NEWARK, N.J. – A New Jersey-based securities trader was indicted today on additional charges stemming from his alleged role in orchestrating a massive, long-running market manipulation scheme that netted tens of millions of dollars in illegal profits between 2014 and 2016, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Joseph Taub, 38, of Clifton, New Jersey, was first charged by complaint with securities fraud conspiracy in 2016. Today’s 13-count indictment charges him with securities fraud conspiracy, market manipulation conspiracy, multiple substantive securities fraud and market manipulation counts, and tax fraud conspiracy. Taub will be arraigned before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez at a later date.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From 2014 to 2016, Taub and others conspired to manipulate securities prices of numerous public companies by coordinating trading in dozens of brokerage accounts that they secretly controlled. As part of the scheme, Taub and others engaged in a series of near simultaneous transactions in targeted securities that were designed to artificially influence the market price of the securities and induce other market participants to trade based on the false impression that there was real market interest.
Taub and others allegedly used “straw accounts” that were held in their names, the names of their family members, and the names of entities they controlled. Many of the accounts were opened in the names of individuals who neither controlled the accounts nor traded the securities held in the accounts. Taub funded many of these accounts and used the straw account holders to conceal the scheme from regulators and law enforcement.
The fraudulent trades typically involved two types of straw accounts. First, a “Winner Account” purchased a large block of shares in a particular security. Next, a “Loser Account” placed multiple small orders in the same security to create upward pressure on the stock price. Once the price of the security moved higher due to the Loser Account’s manipulative orders, the conspirators sold their large position in the Winner Account and the shares from any executed trades in the Loser Account. While the Loser Accounts would generally lose money, the conspirators expected the gains from the Winner Accounts to more than make up for them.
In addition, Taub allegedly conspired with accountant Shaun Greenwald, 40, of Cedarhurst, New York, and others to defraud the United States by hiding from the brokerage firms and the IRS the identities of who actually controlled the straw accounts and who reaped the majority of the profits from the scheme. As a result, the profits from the straw accounts were taxed at the lower tax rates applicable to the straw account holders instead of the higher tax rates applicable to Taub and other members of the conspiracy.
The securities fraud conspiracy, market manipulation conspiracy, and tax fraud conspiracy counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. Each substantive count of securities fraud and market manipulation carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. All the counts in the indictment also carry a $250,000 fine, or twice of the gross gain or loss from the offenses.
Greenwald pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme on Feb. 21, 2018 and awaits sentencing.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed a separate civil action seeking forfeiture of brokerage accounts in which the manipulative trades were executed, bank and brokerage accounts funded with proceeds of the scheme, and Taub’s interest in companies in which he invested the proceeds of the scheme. Civil forfeiture cases are “in rem” proceedings – proceedings against things. The forfeiture claims in this case are based on allegations that the forfeitable property is proceeds of the securities fraud scheme or is property involved in laundering the proceeds of the scheme. That civil forfeiture action is pending.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen in Newark, and special agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey, with the investigation. He also thanked the SEC’s New York Regional Office for its assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Shapiro and Zach Intrater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark; and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Devlin and Barbara Ward, Deputy Chief of the office’s Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Lawrence C. Lustberg Esq. and Steven Y. Yurowitz Esq.