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Ex-CFO pleads guilty to stealing from SPACs to trade meme stocks, cryptocurrencies

Skylar Shaw

Jan 04, 2023 14:13


An ex-chief financial officer (CFO) of several special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) pled guilty to stealing more than $5 million from them and losing almost all of it in joke stocks and cryptocurrencies.

Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, Cooper Morgenthau, 35, of Fernandina Beach, Florida, entered a plea of guilty to one count of wire fraud. The judge was U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer.

When Morgenthau is sentenced on April 25, the suggested federal guidelines call for a jail term of between six and seven and a half years.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also resolved related civil allegations against him in exchange for his agreement to lose $5.11 million and pay an equivalent amount in restitution.

A representative for Morgenthau, Michael Bowen, refused to comment.

According to the authorities, Morgenthau stole more than $1.2 million from African Gold Acquisition Corp between June 2021 and August 2022, covered it up by fabricating account statements, and either spent it all in securities trading or lost it all.

The SEC said that Morgenthau then solicited $4.7 million from investors in SPACs known as Strategic Metals Acquisition Corp to make up for his losses, only to lose the majority of it in cryptocurrency trading.

African Gold, a New York-based company formed to purchase a gold mining company, raised $414 million in an IPO in February 2021.

According to the SEC, it dismissed Morgenthau in August of last year when he ran out of money and its suppliers refused to do business with him.

At the time, African Gold said that it fired Morgenthau after becoming aware of his "improper withdrawals" and efforts to hide them.

According to a statement from Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, Morgenthau "confessed that he betrayed the trust that he owed to his public and private investors."