While the eight former Utah shell companies that were promoted abroad involved many of the same people at the Utah end, the stocks seemed to go two different directions when they got to Europe.
Four were sold by Continental American Investments and three were sold by brokerages tied to disbarred New York lawyer and former stockbroker Thomas F. Quinn, according to published reports. Kenneth Israel, Salt Lake branch chief for the Securities and Exchange Commission, said the eighth company, Dunhill Exploration Inc., also was sold overseas, but he declined to say by whom.Some of the companies had common links in New York as well as Utah.
Two names that appear more than once are those of Howard Ray and Benjamin Sprecher.
Sprecher, a New York lawyer, shows up not only in connection with some of the Utah-born companies promoted by Continental American but also linked to some of those sold by the brokerages said to be related to Quinn.
In court documents filed May 1 in U.S. District Court for Utah, the SEC said Sprecher received large blocks of stock in two of the revived companies that originated in Utah, and that stock "may be the source of the securities sold in Europe."
Asked about his involvement with the Utah-born companies, Sprecher told the Deseret News he has no present involvement. In the past, he has had limited involvement, he said, which included notarizing some documents and reviewing a private placement memorandum for Golden Glory USA Inc.
Sprecher has several ties to Utah. According to a former director of Western Capital & Securities Inc., Sprecher was New York counsel for that Salt Lake brokerage, which made a market in the stock of the former revived shells that went overseas. The SEC says he also signed certain documents as vice president of a Utah company involved in purported public distributions of stock in some of the former shells - distributions the SEC claims never actually took place.
Sprecher is also a longtime friend of a Salt Lake lawyer who wrote opinions on the tradeability of several of the companies.
In 1977, the SEC sued Sprecher and others, including David Parker, the man who later founded Western Capital. The suit involved a stock that the SEC alleged had been part of a scheme to defraud investors. Without admitting guilt, Parker consented to a permanent injunction prohibiting him from violating securities laws in the future. The judge refused to enjoin Sprecher, and found that the evidence did not support a finding that Sprecher knew of any securities law violations concerning the stock. By agreement with the SEC, the suit against Sprecher was dismissed with prejudice, meaning the government could not refile it.
One of the other names that appears in connection with the overseas sale of stock of some of the Utah-born companies is that of Howard Ray.
William Montren, president of a private New York electronics business that was going to merge with one of the former Utah shells but never did, said his contacts on that deal were Sprecher and Ray. He said he wasn't sure where Ray was from, but part of his family was in Canada, and Ray spent a lot of time in France.
Montren said Ray was going to arrange for the stock of the merged company - Columbia Electronics Systems Inc. - to be sold in Europe. Montren said the merger never went through but he later learned that the stock was being sold abroad as if it had. Some of the European brokerages that sold Columbia Electronics Systems stock are among those that investigators say are linked to Thomas F. Quinn.
Continental American touted the stocks in the former Utah revived shells in its newsletter, the Sigmund Rothschild's Investors Guide to Profits. Rothschild, a prominent New York art appraiser who withdrew his name from the publication after two issues, said he thinks his contact on the newsletter was a man named Howard Ray, whom he described as originally a New York art dealer now in Canada.