The former CFO of Uni-Pixel Inc. made about $1.2 million in profits from selling his shares in the company after misleading investors about the prospects for its touchscreen devices, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said.
The SEC on Wednesday charged both ex-CFO Jeffrey Tomz and ex-CEO Reed Killion in a civil complaint alleging they made false and misleading statements and accounting omissions between December 2012 and February 2014 that had the cumulative effect of artificially inflating Uni-Pixel’s stock price.
Killion allegedly realized about $770,000 in profits from his sales of Uni-Pixel stock.
“We allege that Uni-Pixel and top executives portrayed a company whose technology had arrived when in truth it was still in the developmental stage,” Shamoil T. Shipchandler, director of the SEC’s Fort Worth regional office, said in a news release. “Tech companies and their officers must be honest with investors about the state of their products and cannot portray them as something they are not.”
Uni-Pixel agreed to pay a $750,000 fine while former board Chairman Bernard Marren entered into a deferred prosecution agreement that requires him to cooperate with the SEC’s pending case against Tomz and Killion.
According to the SEC, the company had a pattern of “announcing supposedly cutting-edge technologies and pivotal business relationships, which then failed to achieve commercial quality, generated little to no revenues, and ultimately disappeared.”
In the case of its Uniboss touch sensor film, Uni-Pixel said in an April 2013 press release that printing and plating lines were “qualified and production ready” and it was “on track to meet the capacity target of sixty thousand square feet per month by the end of April.” In reality, the SEC said, Uni-Pixel had yet to produce any functional sensors.
Another release touted Uni-Pixel’s “first purchase order” for its sensors when the buyer, Dell, had in fact only ordered a mere $10 worth of sensors for the customer to review as samples, according to the SEC.
During the first half of 2013, Uni-Pixel’s stock price soared from less than $15 to more than $35 per share. On Thursday, the stock was trading at 60 cents.
Tomz, 44, served as Uni-Pixel’s finance chief from June 2005 to May 2015.