Stock manipulator on US wanted list arrested in Phuket

Stock manipulator on US wanted list arrested in Phuket

Suspect and accomplices accused of pushing up share price of listed food company more than 900%

Peter Coker Jr, 54, a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis, wanted by US for fraud and stock manipulation, is arrested in a hotel room near Surin beach in Thalang district of Phuketon Wednesday. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)
Peter Coker Jr, 54, a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis, wanted by US for fraud and stock manipulation, is arrested in a hotel room near Surin beach in Thalang district of Phuketon Wednesday. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)

A 54-year-old man wanted by the United States for stock manipulation and colluding in fraud has been arrested in Thalang district of Phuket province.

Peter Coker Jr, who holds citizenship of the Caribbean island state of St Kitts and Nevis, was arrested on Wednesday in a hotel room near Surin Beach on Phuket, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), said on Saturday.

The arresting team was led by Pol Maj Gen Montri Khetkhan, commander of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), working with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Coker was wanted on an arrest warrant issued by the Criminal Court on Dec 27, 2022, as he was on red and black notices issued by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) for colluding in stock fraud, fraudulent manipulative securities trading and related offences.

According to a US Department of Justice press release, the charges against Coker and others relate to share manipulation of two companies, Hometown International and E-Waste Corp, which were traded on the OTC Link Alternative Trading System.

The accused, who were business partners, had taken over a food company in New Jersey in 2014, and they had planned to expand more branches in a bid to bring their business into the stock market.  

In 2019, Coker and his partners managed to bring the company, Hometown International, to the market, and they had set its public offering (IPO) price at US$1.25 before they hired some stock traders to manipulate the share prices, said Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop.

On April 16, 2021, the company’s share price jumped to $12.99, up to 939% from the opening price in just two years. The suspect and his accomplices had also transferred 3.5 million shares to nominees in Macau. This made Coker a major shareholder of the firm, said the CIB chief.

Police track down the US-wanted stock manipulator to a hotel room in Phuket. (Photo supplied/ Wassayos Ngamkham)

The suspect and his accomplices pulled the strings behind the stock manipulation, according to the US investigation.

The New Jersey Federal Court had issued arrest warrants for Coker and his accomplices for colluding in stock fraud and manipulation. Conviction carries a jail term of up to 20 years. Peter Coker Sr, the suspect’s father, and James Patten were arrested in the US while Coker was at large.

The FBI based in Bangkok later found that the suspect had fled to Thailand. The agency then sought cooperation from the CIB to help locate him. Police began tracking him to a hotel in Phuket where they arrested him, said Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop.

During questioning, the suspect admitted he was the man on the Interpol notices. He was handed over to the Criminal Court for legal proceedings.

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