Chairman of the Board of Forcefield Energy Inc. Arrested for Securities Fraud Conspiracy
Richard St. Julien, the Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of ForceField Energy Inc. (ForceField), a publicly traded company whose common stock was listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol FNRG, was arrested late Friday evening on charges of securities fraud conspiracy.1 The arrest occurred as St. Julien was preparing to board a plane in Ft. Lauderdale bound for Costa Rica. The defendant’s initial appearance for removal proceedings to the Eastern District of New York occurred this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow, at the United States District Court in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).
ForceField purports to be a worldwide distributor and provider of LED lighting products and solutions. According to the criminal complaint unsealed this morning in Brooklyn federal court, since approximately August 2012, St. Julien and his co-conspirators engaged in a scheme to manipulate the price and trading volume of ForceField’s stock by using undisclosed nominee accounts, including an account held by a dermatologist in Boulder, Colorado, to purchase and sell the stock, and through the use of stock promoters and broker dealers who failed to disclose to potential investors that they had been paid by St. Julien to promote the purchase of the stock. St. Julien did not disclose his ownership and control of the shares purchased through nominees and used offshore banks, including in Belize, to pay the nominees to conceal his ownership and control. St. Julien coordinated the purchases by telephone and text messages.
As detailed in the complaint, at the end of January 2015, St. Julien allegedly paid approximately $50,000 to a stock promoter through the dermatologist in Colorado. A few days later, the stock promoter began promoting the purchase of ForceField shares on its publicly available Facebook page, disclosing that his company had been paid $25,000 by an entity unrelated to St. Julien, or the dermatologist.
Through his scheme, St. Julien and his co-conspirators deceived the investing public by creating the appearance of genuine trading volume and interest in ForceField’s stock, and as a result, from approximately January 2014 to April 2015, the price of the stock rose from a low of $4.55 per share to a high of $7.82 per share.
“As Chairman of the Board of a publicly traded company, St. Julien owed a duty of full disclosure to ForceField’s investors and shareholders. However, instead of protecting their interests by enforcing required disclosures and transparency at the company, St. Julien engaged in a stock trading scheme that was crafted on lies and deceit. Corporate insiders are on notice that we will bring to justice those who seek to deceive the investing public,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch expressed her appreciation to the FBI, the agency responsible for leading the government’s investigation, and to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission for its cooperation and assistance in the investigation.
“St. Julien had a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of ForceField and its shareholders. He did neither. As alleged, St. Julien used backroom promoters and broker dealers to boost the price of ForceField by 58%, in violation of securities laws,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Rodriguez.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Business and Securities Fraud Section. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis is in charge of the prosecution.
This prosecution was the result of efforts 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. For more information on the task force, visit http://www.StopFraud.gov.
- RICHARD ST. JULIEN
- Age: 46
- Residence: San Jose, Costa Rica
1 The charges announced today are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.