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|What is this about?
The United States is initiating a Remission process to return forfeited money to eligible victims of frauds perpetrated by Chad Peter Smanjak, Pawel Dynkowski, Andrew Baum, Steve Decesare, Kevin James Quinn, Joseph Saranello, and others, (“Smanjak Group”). The Remission process is governed by the Code of Federal Regulations at 28 C.F.R. Part 9 and overseen by the United States Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (USDOJ-MLARS). USDOJ-MLARS hired Epiq Class Action and Claims Solutions, Inc. (“Epiq”) to serve as the Remission Administrator for this matter.
Between 2007 and at least 2010, the Smanjak Group knowingly engaged in several penny stock “pump and dump” schemes. In the schemes, the Smanjak Group were able to falsely inflate (“pump”) the trading price of several penny stocks, including those with the following Tickers:
Colorado Cases: ADEC, ALCD, ASII, BCLN, BGOI, DANR, GVBP, HMSO, IDGI, MASP, OWVI, RDWG, RUNU, RVRX, SHTP, TTNC, VDTI, WAVE;
Delaware Case: ASII, BCLN, IDFI, RDWG, RUNU, VDTI, WAVU;
New York Case: BANI, CNWI, EWPI, GDGI, GRNH, MRNJ, PDMI, TLAN
California Case: RUNU
After falsely inflating the stocks, they would then begin to sell shares at inflated prices (“dump”), making illegal profits of approximately $8 to $10 million. The Smanjak Group inflated the stocks through false advertising and fraudulent material facts regarding the company and trading the shares at a high volume between 31 Panamanian shell entities created and controlled by the Smanjak Group.
|Where do the Remission Funds come from?
The United States Attorney’s Offices in Colorado, Delaware, the Central District of California, and the Southern District of New York pursued civil and criminal forfeiture of property derived from the proceeds of the fraud scheme. The net proceeds of those forfeited assets are now available to compensate victims through the Remission process.
|What is a Petition for Remission?
A Petition for Remission is a request made to the Attorney General by victims of criminal activity to recover money that they have lost as a result of a particular crime. During the Remission process, the net proceeds of assets forfeited to the government are returned to the victims of the crime underlying the forfeiture. The regulations at 28 C.F.R. Part 9 govern the remission process. The final remission decisions are made by USDOJ-MLARS, on behalf of the Attorney General. Since remission is a discretionary act by the Attorney General, final decisions are not reviewable in court.
|What stocks are eligible?
The Remission process is limited to Brokerage firm, bank and/or other person or entity who holds shares of one or all of the stocks. The Tickers are listed below.
|Can I file a Notice and Petition for Remission Form (“Petition”) now?
No, the filing deadline to file a petition for this Remission Fund was January 8, 2021.
|How do I obtain a Petition?
The time to obtain a petition for this Remission Fund has passed.
|What did I need to do to participate in the Remission Fund?
To qualify for a payment, you must have submitted a completed Petition for Remission form along with your supporting documentation to the Remission Administrator online or by mail no later thany January 8, 2021.
|Did I need an attorney to file a petition?
No, you did not need an attorney to file a petition.
|Is there a fee for filing a petition?
The Department of Justice does not charge fees for you to participate in the remission process.
|How will my loss amount be calculated?
The remission regulations recognize out-of-pocket pecuniary losses (i.e. the amount paid for the applicable stock, minus any amount realized from its sale and any other recoveries). The remission regulations do not permit the payment of forgone interest, attorney fees, or collateral expenses incurred to recover lost property or to seek other recompense.
|Will I be notified if my Notice and Petition for Remission is deficient?
Yes, Epiq will provide a Notice of Deficiency to all Petitioners with deficient Petitions specifying the additional information that must be submitted. The deficiency must be corrected within 30 days of the mailing date of the Notice of Deficiency. If the deficiency is not cured within 30 days or any extension thereof, the Remission Administrator will recommend to DOJ-MLARS that your Petition should be denied.
|Why do I need to provide my Social Security Number on the Petition?
Social security numbers are collected to maintain compliance with the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA), 31 U.S.C. § 3716. The DCIA requires the Department of the Treasury and other disbursing officials to offset Federal payments to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed to the United States, or delinquent debts owed to states, including past-due child support enforced by states. If an offset is made during an electronic funds transfer, the petitioner will receive a notification from the Department of the Treasury at the last address provided by the debtor to the creditor. If you believe that your payment may be subject to an offset, you may contact the Treasury Department at 1-800-304-3107. If you have a social security number, failure to provide the number will result in denial of your Petition.
|What if I have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), but do not have a Social Security number?
If you have an ITIN, enter your ITIN instead of a Social Security Number. Do not check the box that says “Check this box if you do not have a Social Security number.”
|What if I do not have a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number?
If you do not have an ITIN or a Social Security number, check the box that says you do not have a Social Security number. When asked for a reason, you can explain that you’re not a US citizen, or whatever other explanation applies.
|Do I have to be a United States citizen or in the United States to file a petition?
No. You are not required to be a United States citizen or in the United States to file a petition.
|Can I file a petition on behalf of an estate?
Yes. If the person who invested is deceased, please submit the petition in the name of the deceased, and include verification of the death and documents showing that you represent the estate.
|Can an attorney file a Petition on behalf of their client?
Yes, but they will need to supply signed documents from each victim indicating they represent them and are permitted to file the Petition on their behalf. The SSN/TIN provided must be that of the client and not the attorney.
|What if I need to change the name on the petition?
If you need your name changed because of a marriage or divorce, please provide a copy of your marriage license or divorce decree, and a copy of your current government-issued ID.
|What is the Status of the Remission?
The Deficiency letter mailing took place on July 14, 2021. The response due date to the deficiency letter is August 13, 2021. If you received a deficiency letter, you must respond by August 13, 2021, and include the necessary documentation to support your petition. This will be the only opportunity to respond to the letter.
|What is acceptable documentation to cure a deficiency?
Acceptable supporting documentation includes trade confirmations, official monthly, quarterly or year-end broker statements of other account statements to verify purchases or sales. Please include documentation to support each transaction. If you no longer have supporting documentation, you should consult your broker or financial advisor to obtain documents for you. If you are unable to locate supporting documentation, you should ask your broker to write a letter on letterhead detailing your purchases and or sales.
|What is the calculation formula that will be used to determine payment?
If the forfeited funds are insufficient to fully compensate all the victims in a multi-victim case, the funds will be distributed on a pro rata basis in accordance with the amount of loss suffered by each victim.
|If my Petition is approved, how will I be paid?
You will receive your payment by a check.
|When will I get a payment?
|If my petition is denied or I disagree with the granted amount, what appeal rights do I have?
You may file a request for reconsideration of the decision in the manner described in your decision letter. Requests for reconsideration are governed by 28 C.F.R. § 9.4(k). Only one request for reconsideration is permitted.
|What happens if I don’t do anything?
If you do nothing, you will not be eligible to receive a payment from the Remission Fund.
|Where can I obtain additional information?
|How do I update my contact information?
|What is Epiq?
Epiq has been engaged as the Remission Administrator by USDOJ-MLARS.