By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A Bahamian broker/dealer’s principal yesterday argued he had suffered “no setback” after his first bid to block a probe by US federal regulators was thrown out.
Guy Gentile, head of Bay Street-based MintBroker International, the former Bay Street-based Swiss America Securities, said he had already filed similar arguments in other US federal courts against the Securities & Exchange Commission’s (SEC) continued investigation.
Speaking after the New Jersey federal court dismissed his action there, Mr Gentile told Tribune Business via e-mail: “The same argument is in Florida court, and the New Jersey court ruled the arguments should be in Florida, so I don’t see this as a setback at all. This is to avoid two different outcomes as the New Jersey judge also retired today.”
The SEC’s Miami office has been investigating whether Mr Gentile and his Bahamian broker/dealer breached US securities laws by actively soliciting US clients without being registered in the US - allegations he vigorously denies.
“The fact is it’s a bogus investigation, and they have zero evidence that the firm or myself solicited US clients. Every employee and client can attest to that,” Mr Gentile told Tribune Business yesterday. “There is no impact on the firm as of now. We still employ about 60 staff and are looking to the Asian markets to expand the business.”
Mr Gentile has already moved to intervene in two actions brought by the SEC in south Florida’s federal court, where the capital markets regulator wants the court to compel his attorney and a company, Mintrade Technologies, to obey a subpoena and hand over information on MintBroker International and its affiliate, SureTrader.
The New Jersey court, in rejecting Mr Gentile’s bid to block the probe, ruled that his action should be brought in south Florida rather than be placed before itself so he has already given himself other routes to challenge the SEC investigation.
In previous legal filings, Mr Gentile has strenuously denied the regulator’s core complaint that he and his Bahamian business actively solicited US clients.
“Mr Gentile’s Bahamian broker/dealer does not solicit United States customers,” his attorneys have argued. “All of its advertisements on the Internet explicitly state that the advertisement is not intended for US persons, and the broker-dealer’s website contains a pop-up blocker which blocks anyone with a US Internet IP address and requires anyone who wishes to enter the site to confirm that they are not a United States citizen and have not been solicited.
“The SEC staff was told that FINRA (the regulatory body that oversees broker/dealers) had previously initiated an investigation into whether the Bahamian broker/dealer was soliciting US clients the prior year, and had concluded its investigation by determining that the broker/dealer was in compliance with all regulations regarding the registration of broker/dealers and anti-solicitation laws based on the company’s demonstrated policies and practices.”
Mr Gentile has enjoyed a somewhat colourful career in the Bahamas, with Tribune Business reporting in 2016 how he and his broker/dealer were allegedly used as “bait” by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to help snare numerous international securities fraudsters.
He claimed that he and his Bahamian businesses, including the now-closed Sur Club Sushi Bar, were “forced” to play key roles in undercover ‘sting’ operations targeting criminals earning millions of dollars from market manipulation scams.
Their participation even extended to the ‘bugging’, both by video and sound, of Swiss-America’s Bahamian head office in a successful bid to gain evidence against a Canadian fraudster who subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges against him.
Mr Gentile also attracted international media coverage more recently after his Russian-born, model girlfriend, Kristina Kuchma, 24, in a fit of rage drove his Mercedes S400 hybrid into the pool at his Ocean Club home after he ended their 18-month relationship by text and allegedly reneged on a promise to provide $50,000 for one of her business ventures.