|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2010
CONTACT: Snake River Alliance
Liz Woodruff, Energy Policy Analyst
208-344-9161 (w); 208-871-4597 (c)
Ken Miller, Energy Program Director
208-344-9161 (w); 208-841-6982 (c)
SEC Charges AEHI with Fraud
Idaho Nuclear Developer Accused of Enriching Himself
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday sealed the fate of Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., and its mythical Idaho nuclear reactor, charging the company and its principals in a sweeping federal complaint with widespread securities fraud.
The SEC, which on Tuesday froze trading of AEHI stock out of concerns about stock sales practices, the viability of the company and its ability to build a nuclear reactor in Payette County, now wants AEHI’s assets frozen along with those of its top two executives, CEO Don Gillispie and senior vice president Jennifer Ransom. Thursday’s developments effectively end any attempts by AEHI to build a nuclear reactor in Payette County or anywhere else in Idaho.
“As we said when AEHI’s stock was suspended, our greatest concern remains with the countless Idahoans who invested in AEHI and trusted Mr. Gillispie and his associates,” Snake River Alliance Energy Policy Analyst Liz Woodruff said. “Not only did many Idahoans fall victim to this scam, so too did the people of Payette County who were assured AEHI’s nonexistent nuclear reactor would bring thousands of new jobs and untold riches, as Mr. Gillispie claimed.”
Woodruff reiterated her call to Payette County to announce that AEHI’s pending rezoning application for the reactor scheme is no longer being considered.
“The people of Payette County and the people of Idaho who have been victimized by this renegade reactor developer deserve nothing less than to know that Mr. Gillispie and his company will victimize Idaho no further,” she said. “We are pleased to learn of the SEC’s prompt action, but these charges are no surprise. Since AEHI first came to Idaho, we’ve been raising concerns about its financial and ethical practices. It was just a matter of time before AEHI’s true nature came to light.”
The heart of the federal SEC’s complaints against AEHI is the way the company raised its cash – and then what it did with it. According to an SEC release:
“AEHI and Gillispie have raised millions of dollars from individual investors in Idaho, elsewhere in the U.S., and Asia by making misleading statements about the viability of AEHI, which has no realistic possibility of building a multi-billion dollar nuclear reactor. AEHI has never had any revenue or product.”
The complaint continues: “Beginning in 2006, Defendants engaged in a scheme to pump up the price and volume of AEHI’s stock to artificially high levels through false press releases and promoters, and subsequently dump the stock through secret sales made by other entities and individuals connected to AEHI. The scheme was carried out by Defendant Donald L. Gillispie, founder and CEO of AEHI, and Defendant Jennifer Ransom, Senior Vice-President of Administration and Secretary of AEHI.”
Gillispie and Ransom are described in the SEC complaint as “aiders and abettors” of the AEHI scam, and the complaint asks the court to ensure the pair are prevented from continuing to rip off Idahoans. It also asks the court to “Enter an order preventing defendants and relief from destroying, mutilating, concealing, transferring, altering, or otherwise disposing of, in any manner, books, records, computer programs, computer files, computer printouts, correspondence, including e-mail, whether stored electronically or in hard-copy, memoranda, brochures, or any other documents of any kind” relating to the nuclear reactor scheme.
Snake River Alliance Energy Program Director Ken Miller, who has been tracking AEHI’s financial affairs since Gillispie arrived in Idaho four years ago, thanked the SEC for its diligence and quick action against the company. Miller said the Alliance and many other concerned Idahoans have been providing information to the SEC and to state securities investigators almost since Gillispie arrived in Idaho.
“It may be months or even years before we know how much damage this company has done to Idaho investors and others in the state, but we’re grateful for today’s action and we can only hope that investors will get some of their money back,” Miller said. “According to the SEC’s complaint, this is a scam of huge proportions. These defendants tried to enrich themselves at the expense of our friends and neighbors.”
Miller also said the case shows the importance of state and local agencies to review such projects with utmost scrutiny. That this could have been a nuclear reactor only makes the need for that kind of review more urgent.
“Idaho’s experience with AEHI is a textbook case of why we need to improve our ability to examine and site large energy projects,” Miller said. “If the state had a serious siting process in place, this project would never have reached this point and so many investors could have been spared.”
The Snake River Alliance works for responsible solutions to nuclear waste and a nuclear-free future. It seeks to strengthen Idaho’s economy and communities through the implementation of renewable energy sources in Idaho and the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation.