U.S. SEC and DOJ Charge Robert Scott Murray and Trillium Capital with Securities Fraud!

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed charges against Robert Scott Murray and his private company, Trillium Capital LLC, for allegedly orchestrating a fraudulent scheme to manipulate the stock price of Getty Images Holdings Inc. by announcing a sham offer to purchase the company. Murray has previously held CEO and CFO positions in several publicly traded companies. In a parallel action, Murray pleaded guilty to criminal charges in this context.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Murray and Trillium Capital began issuing press releases in early April 2023, calling on Getty Images to either sell itself or appoint Murray to its board of directors. These initial press releases were reportedly intended to inflate Getty Images’ stock price but failed to generate significant movement. The DOJ said that Murray owned approximately 300,000 GETY shares. Murray allegedly issued press releases and sent emails in the name of Trillium Capital urging that Getty add Murray to its board of directors. Murray’s efforts to join Getty’s board of directors failed.

Murray allegedly devised what he referred to as his “new plan” to artificially boost the stock price. On April 24, 2023, Murray and Trillium Capital issued a press release claiming Trillium had proposed buying all outstanding Getty Images shares for $10 each, nearly double the stock’s closing price from the prior trading day. This announcement caused a sharp increase in Getty Images‘ stock price.

The SEC’s complaint asserts that the buyout proposal was fraudulent and misleading. Robert Scott Murray and Trillium had no genuine intention of acquiring Getty Images and did not attempt to secure the necessary funds for such a transaction. Despite pledging in the press release to hold their shares, Murray began liquidating his Getty Images stock almost immediately after the market opened on April 24, without waiting for a response from Getty.

Murray claimed that his buyout proposal could create real value for Getty shareholders,” stated Mark Cave, Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “But we allege that, in the end, Murray leveraged his professional credentials to orchestrate an old-fashioned pump-and-dump scheme, disguised as shareholder activism.

The U.S. DOJ announced that Robert Scott Murray, 60, has been charged and has agreed to plead guilty to one count of securities fraud in the Getty Images case.

The SEC has charged Murray and Trillium with violating the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. To resolve these charges, Murray and Trillium have consented to a judgment that permanently enjoins them from future violations of federal securities laws, prohibits them from engaging in certain securities-related activities, and bars Murray from serving as an officer or director of any public company. The court will also decide if they must pay disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties.

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