Bulgarian man charged in stock manipulation scheme

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — A Bulgarian man has been charged with manipulating the stocks of Avon and two other companies by issuing fake takeover offers.

Nedko Nedev faces an eight-count indictment, with charges for crimes related to market manipulation, insider trading and aggravated identity theft. The 38-year-old Nedev is a citizen of Bulgaria and the U.S.

The allegations in the indictment were unsealed in federal court on Thursday in Manhattan. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said in a written statement that Nedev was arrest in Bulgaria and his extradition to the U.S. is being sought.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit against Nedev and four other defendants in June. In it, the SEC said one defendant — PTG Capital — filed an offer for Avon Products Inc. in May 2015 claiming that it had proposed buying all the company's stock for a large premium. That sent Avon's stock soaring. The SEC said at the time that the company seemed to have been formed only to manipulate stocks.

Nedev and others who weren't identified are also accused of a similar scheme with shares of reinsurance company Tower Group International in May 2014 and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in December 2012.

There was no immediate information on an attorney who could comment on Nedev's behalf.

Avon's stock added 8 cents to $4.30 before the market open on Friday.