Dunragit man denies US fraud charges

A Dunragit man facing fraud charges in the US has denied any knowledge of tweets that authorities claim manipulated stock prices.

James Craig, 62, of Dunragit, near Stranraer, said he was only made aware of the allegations through media reports and claimed he had no interest in the stock market.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it had filed securities fraud charges against him in a federal court in California.

Speaking from his home, Mr Craig said: “I have never been approached by any law enforcement agency telling me I am subject of any investigation. Of course I deny it.

“The first I knew of it, in all honesty, was when the TV camera turned up this morning and I thought ‘What’s happened here?’ Somebody texted me about two minutes later. No law enforcement agency has ever come to me. Nobody has interviewed me. Not even the local law enforcement have come to tell me about this.”

He challenged US authorities to contact him directly, “instead of making allegations over the airwaves”.

The complaint alleges that Mr Craig tweeted false statements in 2013 about two companies, Audience and Sarepta Therapeutics, on accounts he created to look like those of securities research firms.

Several tweets suggesting that Audience was under federal investigation were said to have made the share price of the mobile audio company to fall by 28 per cent before the Nasdaq stock exchange temporarily halted trading.

Further alleged tweets that claimed Sarepta Therapeutics was also subject to an investigation sent shares in the drugs firm tumbling by 16 per cent.

Craig is accused of buying and selling shares in both companies in an attempt to profit, the SEC said.

He has been indicted by a grand jury in San Francisco, where prosecutors claimed shareholders had lost more than £1 million as a result.

Mr Craig added: “I wish instead of making allegations over the airwaves they had the decency to make them to me.”