The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and the Bureau of Securities announced that Steven Hold, 43, of Warren, and William Tobias, 45, of Hoboken have been suspended from the securities industry for illegal practices that manipulated stock prices.
The Bureau of Securities entered into a consent order suspending the financial agent registrations of Hold for two years and Tobias for three years. Robert Vallone, 64, of Princeton Junction, previously had his financial agent registration revoked by the Bureau for involvement in these same practices. All three worked at Hold Brothers On-Line Investment Services, LLC, now known as Tafferer Trading LLC ("Hold Brothers"), a broker-dealer that had been registered with the Bureau from December 1994 through October 2012.
An investigation conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") found that two foreign companies partially owned by Hold Brothers engaged in a manipulative trading strategy known as "layering" or "spoofing." In layering, a trader places a buy or sell order with no intention of actually executing the order. The intent of placing such orders is to induce other traders to place orders in response to these purported orders, artificially affecting the price of the security. The trader then cancels the "layered" or "spoofed" orders, but is able to buy or sell at the manipulated stock price at significant profit. The SEC found that Hold Brothers failed to adequately monitor and investigate manipulative trading practices, failed to supervise traders engaging in manipulative trading, and lacked adequate systems and procedures to prevent or detect such practices. The SEC also found that Hold and Tobias aided and abetted and caused these violations of securities laws.
"Illegally gaming the securities market ultimately takes money out of the pockets of hard-working investors. We will not allow our securities laws to be broken so a few can illegally profit at the expense of many," Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.
The Bureau of Securities levied $12,500 in civil penalties each against Hold and Tobias, in addition to the suspensions. The SEC had previously, among other things, imposed a civil monetary penalty against Hold and Tobias in the amount of $75,000 each.
Deputy Attorneys General Victoria A Manning, Chief of the Securities Fraud Prosecution Section, and Emanuel S. Asmar represented the Bureau of Securities in this case.
The Bureau of Securities can be contacted toll-free within New Jersey at 1-866-I-INVEST (1-866-446-8378) or from outside New Jersey at 973-504-3600. The public is encouraged to visit the Bureau's web site at NJSecurities.gov.