The CEO of RVPlus has been charged with making “wholly fictitious” claims that the maker of products for recreational vehicles had a lucrative relationship with the United Nations and $2.8 billion in contracts with foreign governments.
According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Cary Lee Peterson filed false reports with the commission as part of a campaign to fraudulently inflate RVPlus’s stock price after he acquired the microcap company in 2012.
The filings stated, among other things, that RVPlus’s sister company was an “affiliate partner” of the U.N. Climate Convention and that RVPlus had entered into a 10-year agreement with a Nigerian government ministry “for a total of $1.8 billion.”
Peterson, 36, also allegedly claimed RVPlus was owed more than $17 million in accounts receivable on the bogus contracts and used a pseudonym to post hundreds of messages to an online investors’ forum calling RVPlus stock undervalued and urging investors to “buy up as much as possible.”
“In reality, as Peterson knew, RVPlus had no relationship with the U.N. — let alone one that provided any financial benefits — and RVPlus’s touted government contracts and resulting accounts receivable were fictitious,” the SEC said Monday in a civil complaint.
In addition to the SEC case, Peterson was arrested Monday on parallel criminal charges. Each of the three counts in the criminal complaint carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Peterson acquired RVPlus in May 2012 through his ECCO2 Corp., a company that had claimed as early as 2010 to be an “affiliate organization” of the U.N. Climate Convention. The May 2012 press release announcing the acquisition said the U.N. connection “opens many windows of opportunity to over $100 billion in financial aid to fund ECCO2 projects.”
In August 2012, RVPlus said it had relocated from Texas to Jersey City, N.J. “to be closer to United Nations headquarters in New York City.” It also touted the purported Nigerian deal, saying it would supply “energy efficiency and renewable energy products and services.”
According to the SEC, the company also falsely claimed that it had a $90 million deal with the government of Haiti and a $10.5 million agreement with the government of Liberia.