By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A BAHAMIAN broker/dealer's principal yesterday said "business keeps growing" despite continued "harassment" by US regulators, who claim his local activities give "daily opportunities" to violate the law.
Guy Gentile, head of Swiss-America Securities, accused the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) of pursuing a vendetta against him after it last month filed a revised lawsuit alleging he will continue to breach securities laws via his Bahamian business.
The colourful financier, who recently made international headlines after his then-girlfriend drove his high-end car into a Bahamas swimming pool, argued that the SEC's latest October 6, 2017, filing was effectively trying to obtain an injunction preventing him from committing future violations - despite no evidence suggesting he will do so. Mr Gentile argued that the SEC was pursuing a "witch hunt" and vendetta against him, and seemed determined to hound him in a bid to drive him out of the global securities industry.
Suggesting that its efforts were having the opposite effect, he told Tribune Business that the ongoing action was having "zero impact" on Swiss-America Securities and its online trading platform, SureTrader.
"All the impact would have happened when I was indicted the first time," Mr Gentile said, referring to the criminal case brought against him that was previously dismissed.
"But my business has kept growing, and even more so when the case was dismissed; it really took off. Even if they [the SEC] got an injunction it will have no effect on my business, as it's an 'obey the law injunction', not a 'can't do business' injunction, and I always obey the law anyway."
Mr Gentile told Tribune Business that Swiss-America Securities was on track to post "a record year" for 2017, and added: "I'm providing jobs, creating jobs. I have 90 staff worldwide and it keeps growing.
"It's [Swiss-America] doing fantastic. We're going to have a record year. We started the year with 35 employees, and we're at 60-70 right now. Revenue is probably going to be up at least 30-40 per cent from last year, and we see the same thing in 2018.
"We see heavy growth. We're expanding into Europe. I'm in the process of setting up a bank in Puerto Rico. I'm not letting them [the SEC] stop me from my mission and goals, which is to grow my company."
Mr Gentile said the SEC was pursuing the same allegations as those levied against him by criminal prosecutors, which were dismissed by a New Jersey federal court earlier this year because they involved offences supposedly committed 10 years ago and were thus 'out of time' or barred by the 'statute of limitations'.
Undeterred, the SEC has kept despite Mr Gentile's expectations that its complaint would be dropped immediately following the criminal case's dismissal.
The SEC's amended complaint effectively claims that Mr Gentile's Bahamian broker/dealer provides him with the ability to commit future violations of US securities laws unless he is barred by the courts from doing so.
Bizarrely, the October 6 filing draws on an earlier interview given by Mr Gentile to Tribune Business on January 31 this year, in which he outlined plans to grow his business following the criminal indictment's dismissal.
Gentile maintains an active presence in the securities industry as the beneficial owner of an SEC-registered broker/dealer and the chief executive of a Bahamas-based online brokerage firm," the SEC alleged.
"In recent public statements, Gentile has committed to expanding his securities industry businesses. Gentile's ongoing involvement in the securities industry will present him with daily opportunities to violate the securities laws again."
Referring to Swiss-America Securities, the SEC then drew on Tribune Business's earlier interview with regard to Mr Gentile's Bahamian brokerage, which opened in 2011.
"Following the dismissal of parallel criminal charges against him, Gentile announced plans to expand that business, increasing staff by 60 to 80 employees by year-end 2017, targeting 30 per cent growth, and reactivating "stalled" expansion plans," the SEC noted.
"In February 2017,Gentile posted an article from the Nassau Guardian to his Twitter feed in which he was quoted as predicting that his firm"will be the largest broker/dealer in [the Bahamas] within six months."
It added: "Unwilling to acknowledge his past violations, presented with daily opportunities to violate the securities laws, contemptuous of securities regulation,and no longer believing that he is being closely supervised by the FBI, Gentile cannot be expected to avoid additional violations in the future."
The 'FBI' reference alludes to how Mr Gentile and his Bahamian businesses had previously been "forced" to play key roles in undercover 'sting' operations targeting criminals earning millions of dollars from stock market manipulation scams, as the US government leveraged the case against him to ensure Mr Gentile became a 'co-operating witness'.
This work even extended to the 'bugging', both by video and sound, of Swiss-America's head office at Bay Street's Elizabeth on Bay Plaza in a successful bid to gain evidence against a Canadian fraudster who subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges against him.
"Absolutely. It can't be any more than that," Mr Gentile replied, when asked if he considered the SEC litigation a 'vendetta' against himself. "It's just to rack up further legal fees against me and harass me. The allegations are 10 years-old. Why do they need an injunction after the fact?
"After everything I've been through, I want to stay 100 miles, or maybe 1,000 miles, away from these people. They think that because they're the government they can do anything they want, but luckily we have a justice system that stops that.
"I'm not rolling for anyone. They've [the SEC] got egg on their face, and are trying to get me any way they can. They're trying to salvage an unsalvageable case. If I was such an imminent threat to the market, they should have acted in 2012 before the statute of limitations ran out," he continued.
"I'm not worried. I'm not stressed about it at all. Not in the slightest bit. I know I've done everything right, and I'm confident in my attorneys and confident in the facts. They think they can harass anyone because they have the power, but I'm not going to let them."
Mr Gentile added that he had "put my life on the land" in helping to uncover evidence that ultimately secured the conviction of fraudsters guilty of stock market scams worth hundreds of millions of dollars.