BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Securities and Exchange Commission lawyers want a federal judge to again freeze assets of a would-be Idaho nuclear power plant developer, saying its founder hid his efforts to direct the company's dwindling cash to a fraudulent investment scheme.
Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. also confirmed Friday it's being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.
SEC lawyers told U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge this week AEHI Inc. Chief Executive Officer Don Gillispie engaged in a "get-rich-quick" scheme involving his company's final $2 million — without properly reporting the transaction.
In February 2011, Gillispie was ordered by Lodge to provide the SEC with monthly documentation of all AEHI expenditures exceeding $2,500, in exchange for lifting a previous freeze on the company's money.
But Gillispie disclosed nothing about $2 million he shifted into a bank account of a Nevada law firm in May in anticipation of AEHI's plan to participate in a "trading program" involving a New Zealand bank designed to reap "tens of millions," the SEC lawyers wrote.
They contend the purported investment was an obvious sham.
"No 'blocked account' was available for any 'trading program' that would earn tens of millions of dollars," SEC lawyers wrote. "Yet, contrary to their respective obligations as a public reporting company, and as the CEO of that company, AEHI and Gillispie sought to conceal from shareholders, the public, and the commission the arrangements by which they dissipated and transferred the company's remaining assets."
Within just weeks, the transaction "turned sour," SEC lawyers wrote; that's when AEHI demanded its $2 million back from the law firm, Las Vegas-based Black & LoBello.
But the $2 million is now tied up in a Nevada lawsuit, with Black & LoBello asking a state court judge in Clark County to determine its rightful owner.
Andras Babero, an attorney with the firm, said Friday his firm makes no claim to the money; he merely wants to be remunerated for his services.
"Including the monies we were entitled to, including the escrow agreement, we're owed $50,000," Babero said.