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Tech. Exec. confesses to committing fraud related to a fake $4 billion bid for Getty Images

Robert Scott Murray, the former CEO of 3Com, a prominent networking-equipment manufacturer, faced charges of securities fraud in 2006. It was alleged that he had made an attempt to manipulate the share price of Getty, a Seattle-based company. The SEC swiftly denounced the bid as "false and misleading," highlighting the fact that Murray and Trillium had made absolutely no attempt to secure the required funds for the acquisition.



The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Robert Scott Murray and his private company, Trillium Capital LLC, with a fraudulent scheme to manipulate the stock price of Getty Images Holdings Inc. by announcing a fake offer to purchase the company. Murray, from Mashpee, Massachusetts, is a former CEO and CFO of several publicly traded companies.


In a press release, the SEC's complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, alleges that in early April 2023, after acquiring a position in Getty Images stock and options, Murray and Trillium issued press releases urging Getty Images to either sell itself or appoint Murray to its board of directors. According to the complaint, Murray aimed to boost Getty Images' stock price with these press releases, but they had little impact on the stock.


Murray allegedly devised a "new plan" to inflate the price of Getty Images stock by announcing a fake buyout offer. On the morning of April 24, 2023, Murray and Trillium Capital issued a press release claiming Trillium proposed to buy all outstanding Getty Images stock for $10 a share, nearly double the previous day's closing price. This announcement caused the stock price to spike.


The SEC's complaint asserts that the buyout offer was false and misleading since Murray and Trillium had no actual intention or effort to acquire Getty or fund the transaction. Despite pledging to hold their shares in the press release, Murray began liquidating his Getty Images stock within minutes of the market opening on April 24, without waiting for a response from Getty.


“Murray claimed that his buyout proposal could create real value for Getty shareholders,” said Mark Cave, Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “But we allege that, in the end, Murray leveraged his professional credentials to orchestrate an old-fashioned pump-and-dump scheme, disguised as shareholder activism.”


The SEC's complaint accuses Murray and Trillium of violating the antifraud rules in the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. To settle the charges, Murray and Trillium consented to a judgment that permanently prohibits them from future violations of these laws, prohibits them from engaging in certain securities-related activities, and prohibits Murray from serving as an officer or director of a public company. The defendants also agreed to let the court decide whether they should pay disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties, and if so, how much.


In a related development, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts has filed criminal charges against Murray.


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