Vancouver junior mining pump-and-dump scheme exposed

Volkmar Hable | Photo: LinkedIn

A Vancouver businessman has been temporarily banned from securities trading and will be hauled before a BC Securities Commission panel later this month to answer charges he ran a pump-and-dump scheme involving a junior mining company.

The BCSC alleges Volkmar Guido Hable artificially pumped the stock of Samaranta Mining Corp. in 2013 and then dumped his shares in a somewhat unsophisticated pump-and-dump scheme. The allegations have not been proven in court.

Prior to the alleged market manipulation, Hable had been the CEO of Samaranta, a junior exploration company focused on a gold property in Colombia.

Samaranta changed its name to Icon Exploration Inc. (TSX-V:IEX.H) in 2013, a few months after Hable had dumped his stock and resigned as a director for the company.

Hable is also a director for a Singapore-based company called Samarium Group Holding Ltd.

On February 19, 2013, Hable issued a news release claiming Samarium planned to take a 51% stake in Samaranta.

Hable claimed Samarium would buy 51% of Samaranta’s common stock at $0.12 per share – an exorbitant price, given that Samaranta’s shares had been trading at $0.02 per share. The purchase would have been worth $3 million.

As Samaranta’s stock began moving up, so too did the trading volume. Over a period of a few days in February 2013, Samaranta’s shares went up from $0.02 to $0.05 per share. A massive amount of shares were traded – 22.1 million – over a four-day period between February 19 and 22, 2013.

Between February 20 and 22, 2013, Hable sold 4.6 million of his Samaranta shares, netting $157,597.

Then, on February 23, 2013, he issued a news release claiming Samarium was withdrawing its offer to acquire Samaranta shares.

According to the BCSC, Samarium had neither the intention nor the financial wherewithal to execute the deal.

When confronted by the BCSC, Hable provided a financial report from Samarium in December 2013 that the BCSC says was false. It claimed Samarium had $219 million in cash.

“In fact, the annual report was an altered version of an unrelated company’s annual report,” the BCSC stated in the notice of hearing.

A hearing has been scheduled for December 22. In the meantime, Hable is prohibited from buying or selling securities, must resign any position he holds with any company as a director or officer and is banned from all investor relations activities.

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