A B.C.-based Hells Angels member is facing possible U.S. prison time for his alleged involvement in a $100-million ‘pump-and-dump’ scheme.
Courtney Vasseur was among 10 people the Department of Justice charged with fraud on April 14, as part of a crack down on an international stock manipulation ring.
B.C.’s anti-gang agency, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, confirmed Vasseur is a member of the Hells Angels Nomad chapter.
Collectively, the 10 defendants are believed to have made over $100 million by manipulating the stock market. They did so by secretly amassing control of publicly traded companies, artificially inflating their share prices and trading volume by running misleading promotional campaigns, and then selling off their positions.
Investors who bought into the seemingly booming companies took huge losses while the alleged fraudsters filled their pockets with illicit profits.
Vasseur is accused of being directly involved in producing at least $35 million of the $100 million illegal total. While running the schemes, he was known to go by “Black Water,” “Cyrill Vetsch,” “Arctic Shark” and “Oscar Devries,” according to the Department of Justice.
Vasseur and his alleged co-conspirators are each charged with conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud, committing securities and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
As part of the same investigation, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also filed a complaint against a number of other alleged fraudsters, including Vancouver businessman and former CFL player David Sidoo. Although not facing criminal charges, Sidoo is accused of helping to orchestrate two stock fraud schemes, which together produced $16.68 million in illicit profits between 2013 and 2020.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is asking for regulatory action against Sidoo and seven other individuals, including banning them from future trading, and forcing them to return any illegally acquired gains. Together, they are thought to have made $145 million in illicit profits.
None of the allegations against Vasseur or Sidoo have been proven in court.