For Immediate Release | 09-25-20
Media Contact | Nicole Capone
Direct | 602-542-0713
The Arizona Corporation Commission announced today that it has joined the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and 29 other states in filing a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas alleging Metals.com and Barrick Capital Inc. defendants solicited $185 million from seniors and other vulnerable investors nationwide by touting precious metals at grossly inflated prices that were not disclosed.
“The defendants had a reckless disregard for the truth by failing to disclose that virtually every investor lost the majority of their funds in the investments the firm was peddling,” said Corporation Commission Chairman Bob Burns. “Investors, most of whom were seniors, suffered substantial losses from retirement savings by relying on the false representations made by the defendants and their sales representatives.”
The complaint names Los Angeles, California-based companies TMTE Inc., also known as Metals.com, Chase Metals Inc., Chase Metals LLC, Barrick Capital Inc., along with Simon Batashvili, Lucas Asher, and Tower Equity LLC. The defendants are accused of using cold calling, television, radio and social media advertisements designed to “instill fear in elderly and retirement-aged investors and build trust with investors based on representations of political or religious affinity.” Investors were advised to liquidate their holdings at registered investment firms to fund investments in precious metals bullion through self-directed individual retirement accounts and bullion coins, the complaint said.
The defendants also are accused of failing to disclose, among other things, the markup Metals.com and Barrick charged investors for their precious metals bullion products and that investors could lose the majority of their funds immediately upon completing a transaction. The defendants charged investors prices for gold or silver bullion averaging from 100% to more than 300% the melt value or spot price of that gold or silver bullion. In many cases, the market value of the precious metals sold to investors was substantially lower than the value of the securities and other retirement savings investors had liquidated to fund their purchase.
The petition requests the Court order the defendants to cease sales activity, return money to investors, and stop defrauding investors and violating federal and state laws going forward. The Court has also appointed a temporary receiver to take over the companies to marshal funds for the benefit of investors across the country.
Today’s coordinated state and federal action was a result of a multi-state collaboration by members of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which the Corporation Commission is a member, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Office of Cooperative Enforcement.
Defendants are entitled to a trial to answer the charges made against them. The Corporation Commission encourages investors to come forward if they suspect they have been targeted by similar precious metals investment schemes. Please contact the Corporation Commission securities investigators at (602) 542-0662 or SecuritiesDiv@azcc.gov.
The Arizona Corporation Commission was established by the state’s constitution to regulate public utilities and business incorporation. The Corporation Commission is Arizona’s co-equal, fourth branch of government. The five Commissioners elected to the Corporation Commission oversee executive, legislative, and judicial proceedings on behalf of Arizonans when it comes to their water, electricity, telephone, and natural gas resources as well as the regulation of securities, pipeline, and railroad safety. To learn more about the Arizona Corporation Commission and its Commissioners, visit http://azcc.gov