The Securities and Exchange Commission charged an Austin energy company with bribing a broker to manipulate the price of its stock.

The SEC charged Pantera Petroleum, chief executive Christopher S. Metcalf and stock promoter Bozidar Vukovich with "engaging in a fraudulent broker bribery scheme designed to manipulate the market for Pantera's common stock."

Neither Metcalf nor Vukovich could be reached for comment. The company's Web site and Austin phone number both appeared to be out of service Tuesday.

The complaint, filed on January 24, 2011 in federal court in Manhattan, charged that Metcalf and Vukovich engaged in a kickback arrangement with an individual whom the SEC did not name, who claimed to represent a group of registered representatives with trading discretion over the accounts of wealthy customers.

Metcalf and Vukovich promised to pay a 30% kickback to that individual and the registered representatives he purported to represent in exchange for the purchase of up to $2 million of Pantera stock through the customers' accounts.

The complaint further alleges that from March 25-31, 2008 and again on August 22, 2008, Vukovich instructed the person to purchase approximately 295,000 shares of Pantera stock for a total of approximately $150,000 through matched trades using detailed instructions concerning the size, price and timing of the purchase orders.

Thereafter, Vukovich paid the broker bribes of almost $37,000.

The complaint charged Vukovich, Metcalf, and through Metcalf, Pantera, with violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.

The commission is seeking permanent injunctive relief against the defendants, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, if any, plus pre-judgment interest, and civil penalties from Metcalf and Vukovich, a judgment prohibiting Metcalf and Vukovich from participating in any offering of penny stock, and a judgment prohibiting Metcalf from serving as an officer or director of a public company.



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