WASHINGTON (Reuters) - National Lampoon Inc NLN.A, the humor company that purchased the brand name of the producer of “Animal House” and other hit movies, got some unfunny news on Monday, when federal regulators charged it with participating in a wide-ranging stock manipulation scheme.
Representatives of National Lampoon, a Los Angeles provider of comedy films, books and online content, were not immediately available for comment.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said Daniel Laikin, National Lampoon’s chief executive, and a company consultant paid kickbacks of about $68,000 for the purchase of National Lampoon stock in order to inflate the stock price.
The SEC also charged two stock promoters in the case.
The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania also filed criminal charges on Monday involving the same conduct, the SEC said.
The SEC said that from March through June of this year, Laikin and Dennis Barsky, a consultant to National Lampoon and a significant stockholder, paid kickbacks to stock promoters and a witness secretly cooperating with the government.
The alleged purchases were made over a number of days and were designed to give the false impression of a steady demand for the stock, the agency said.
The SEC said Laikin and Barsky were trying to push National Lampoon’s stock price from under $2 per share to at least $5 per share, to keep the price above the minimum listing requirements of the AMEX, and to put the company in a better position to enter into “strategic partnerships and acquisitions.”
The agency is seeking disgorgement of past profits and civil penalties against the defendants.
Reporting by Karey Wutkowski, editing by Matthew Lewis