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Axius CEO Indicted Over Stock-Manipulation Claims

Axius Inc. Chief Executive Officer Roland Kaufmann was indicted on charges he participated in a scheme to bribe brokers and manipulate the share price of the Dubai-based company.

Kaufmann, 60, was charged in an indictment filed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. He was charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and other crimes. Jean-Pierre Neuhaus, 55, a Swiss financial professional, was also named in the filing.

Kaufmann and Neuhaus are accused in the indictment of trying to artificially inflate the value of Axius stock by enlisting a person who they believed would direct a group of corrupt stockbrokers to buy shares in exchange for kickbacks of as much of 28 percent. That individual was an undercover enforcement agent, prosecutors said.

“Rather than rely on the market to set the true value of Axius stock, the defendants allegedly sought to buy the best price possible through bribery and deception,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in Brooklyn said in a statement.

No Axius investors were defrauded in the undercover operation, the Justice Department said in the statement.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a related civil enforcement action against both men yesterday, prosecutors said. Both men were charged in a criminal complaint and arrested on March 8, 2012, according to the statement.

Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for Lynch and, Josef Klazen, a lawyer for Kaufmann, didn’t immediately return voice-mail messages after regular business hours yesterday seeking comment on the indictment.

Justin Goodyear, lawyer with the Justice Department’s fraud section and Shannon Jones, an assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, didn’t return voice-mail messages after regular business hours yesterday.

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