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Pantera’s Metcalf Sued by SEC for Stock Manipulation

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(Corrects spelling of name in fourth paragraph in story published yesterday.)

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Christopher Metcalf, the former chief executive officer of Pantera Petroleum Inc., was accused in a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit of scheming to manipulate the oil company’s stock by paying bribes to brokers.

The SEC complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court accuses Metcalf, 41, and a stock promoter, Bozidar Vukovich, of conspiring in 2008 to pay kickbacks to a person, identified in court papers as “Individual A,” who they believed represented a group of brokers. Metcalf resigned in August as CEO of the Austin, Texas-based company, now known as ESP Resources Inc.

“Vukovich gave Individual A detailed instructions concerning the size, price and timing of” stock purchase orders, the SEC alleged. “In this way, Vukovich was able to insure that Individual A’s purchase orders were matched with Vukovich’s sell orders at prices Vukovich predetermined.”

Robert Heim, a lawyer for Metcalf and Pantera, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. Neither Vukovich nor a lawyer for him could be located.

A message left with a secretary at the Scott, Louisiana-based ESP Resources wasn’t immediately returned. The company, which explores for oil and gas in North and South America, has a market value of about $10 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Shares of ESP Resources trade on an over-the-counter bulletin board.

The case is SEC v. Metcalf, 11-cv-493, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporters on this story: David Glovin in New York at dglovin@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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