The Securities and Exchange Commission and New York Stock Exchange yesterday disciplined the Los Angeles securities firm of Bateman Eichler, Hill Richards, Inc., and three of its current officers in a stock manipulation case.
The SEC said Lenny Smith, a former Bateman Eichler senior vice president and director, and the brokerage firm violated antifraud and stock manipulation provisions of the SEC act, and violated requirements for margin and stock ownership reporting. Smith also was charged with insider trading.
The SEC plans a hearing on the charges against him.
The three officers of the firm charged with aiding and abetting Smith and with margin and reporting violations are Robert Hill, Bateman Eichler's president and chief operating officer; Williard DeGroot, its chairman and chief executive; and John McClure, its chief financial officer. Hill and McClure are directors of the firm.
Involved are the stock of Frigitronics, Inc., which is listed on the NYSE, and two Amex-listed stocks - Vernitron Corp. and Logicon.
Concurrent investigations were carried out by the Big Board and the SEC; parallel penalties were levied.
The three current executives must spend 6 months without pay and be out of the business for half that time. Bateman Eichler was ordered by the SEC to set aside $1 million to cover customer claims stemming from charges of trading rule violations.
The company and three officers agreed to an SEC order covering the penalties. The NYSE censured the firm, separately ordered the same $1 million set-aside, and fined it $100,000, but waived that "in view of the firm's having already suffered losses of $4.5 million."
The company said it agreed to stop the allegedly improper practices and added that the agreement will not affect its business.