The SEC targeted three OTC companies on Friday, halting trading of their stocks. All of the companies had one thing in common; they were ran by former NFL player Patrick Johnson. Johnson entered the NFL in 1998 and played through 2005. Over the course of his NFL career, Johnson played five years with the Baltimore Ravens, one year with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and one year with the Washington Redskins.
The three stocks suspended were PDX Partners, Inc. (OTC Pink: PDXP), Victura Construction Group, Inc. (OTC Pink: VICT) and Cherubim Interests, Inc. (OTC Pink: CHIT), which are all penny stocks traded over the counter with less than $5 million in market cap.
In late 2017 and early 2018 each of the three companies had separately announced an acquisition of trust units in a little-known fund by the name of “NVC Fund.” NVC says the fund invests in financial technology, such as blockchain and cryptocurrency.
The fund’s CEO and Chairman Reverend Frank Ekejija has claimed NVC has over $10 trillion in assets. If this was true, it would mean the fund had more private equity than The Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX), one of the largest private equity firms in the world. Ekejija has also stated the trust agreements between NVC and the companies have not been completed.
The SEC stated in their orders they were concerned with the “accuracy and adequacy” of information put out by the companies. It suspects the companies are trying to take advantage of investors by making cryptocurrency-related announcements, without any real plans to develop crypto technology.
Cherubim Interests had announced plans for an initial coin offering prior to the halt in trading. In January, the company claimed they had secured a $100 million dollar financing commitment to launch “The Self-Sustaining intentional Communities Coin.”
“The sale of the coins will generate capital to create self-sustaining intentional communities across the US and across 57 nations,” the company said in a release.
There are some mysteries surrounding the companies, and the credentials of executives involved. For one thing, the phone numbers listed on the Victura Construction and PDX Partner’s websites are not in service. When CNBC attempted to reach out to Cherubim via phone call, a recorded message for Victura was played.
The NVC Fund claims Chairman Ekejija has an MBA and MA from Northfield University, but the degrees are absent from his LinkedIn page. Additionally, Cherubim’s ICO is said to be backed by a company run by “Elder Jeffrey Saint James.” James lists no education on his LinkedIn page, and CNBC discovered his provided email address was dead.
Penny stocks are not the only companies jumping on the blockchain bandwagon. Beverage company, Long Island Iced Tea recently rebranded themselves as “Long Blockchain.” Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE: KODK) also announced the company would be shifting its focus towards digital currency.
However, recent revelations have shown that Long Blockchain Corp. (NASDAQ: LBCC) has cancelled plans to purchase Bitcoin mining equipment in early February 2018. Furthermore, in late January 2018, Kodak delayed the launch of its KodakCoin cryptocurrency, as questions and concerns are raised over the investor vetting process.
Overall, the three penny stocks ran by the former NFL player are expected to be unsuspended at Midnight of March 2nd. However, this is not the end of the SEC’s plan to crackdown on companies that are seemingly taking advantage of the blockchain and cryptocurrency movement.
Article Contributed By: Frank Marino-Moore