The Securities and Exchange Commission suspended trading Tuesday in shares of 26 small companies for two weeks because they failed to file required periodic financial reports.
It was the first time the regulatory agency, which has increasingly been cracking down on compliance and cooperation, has halted trading in companies for delinquent reporting.
The SEC also began administrative proceedings against 31 companies, including those in which trading has been halted, seeking the suspension or termination of their registration to issue securities.
The agency said it imposed the trading suspensions because the companies' failure to submit the reports means there is a lack of current and accurate information about them.
The trading halts began at the start of trading Tuesday. Trading in the stocks will be able to resume June 22 if the companies file the required reports.
The SEC suspends trading in stocks from time to time, but a suspension of numerous companies at the same time is fairly rare.
The 26 companies' shares are traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers' OTC Bulletin Board, an electronic trading system for small stocks that are thinly traded.
SEC officials say most of the companies have ceased business operations but their stock continues to trade.
"We hope to encourage delinquent companies to file their financials while also denying opportunities for stock-market manipulation," said agency spokesman John Nester.
Companies failed to comply with requirements
The SEC said 14 of the companies are or were associated with Richard Surber of Salt Lake City, and that they failed to heed delinquency letters requesting their compliance with periodic filing requirements. Surber didn't immediately return a telephone call to his office seeking comment.
In 1999, Illinois sought to collect more than $500,000 in fines and costs from a Utah-based real estate company headed by Surber that Illinois officials said was responsible for an illegal tire dump cleaned up by the state. The company, CyberAmerica Corp., was involved in a similar waste tire dispute in West Virginia.
The 14 companies are: ATC II Inc., Cybergate Inc., Cyber Tennis Inc., Cyberwholesale Inc., CathayOne Inc., eLocity Networks Inc., Golden Opportunity Development Corp., JAB International Inc., Maxx International Inc., Oasis Resorts International Inc., Rollerball International Inc., U.S. Homes & Properties Inc., Wichita Development Corp. and Youthline USA Inc.
The SEC previously won injunctions against 17 other companies requiring them to submit their reports, yet they failed to do so, officials said.
The other 17 companies the SEC is acting against are: Alcohol Sensors International Ltd., Beachport Entertainment Corp., Biosonics Inc., Compressent Inc., Eye Cash Networks Inc., Hamilton-Biophile Companies, Holly Holdings Inc., Intelligent Decision Systems Inc., Long Distance Direct Holdings Inc., LRG Restaurant Group Inc., Nevada Manhattan Group Inc., Parallel Technologies Inc., Quadratech Inc., Redneck Foods Inc., Safetech Industries Inc., Viking Resources International Inc. and Xavier Corp.