Monday, September 17, 2007

Sayonara, Universal Express

A naked shorting poster child is no more.

The South Florida Business Journal reports that court-appointed receiver Jane Moscowitz has sent home the employees of Universal Express and shut the doors. So ends what had been a prime example of bad companies using naked shorting to excuse their own failures. According to court rulings, this company was little more than a vehicle for issuing unregistered stock and false public disclosures.

It will be interesting to see what Moscowitz finds when she unpeels the layers of this onion.

One of her first steps should be to wrest control of the Universal Express website, which had served as a platform for the company's blowhard CEO Richard Altomare, and perform a delousing operation. I must say, though, that I will miss Altomare's press releases.

All this poses a dilemma for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which appointed Altomare to three committees. What do you call a CEO who just got booted out by a trustee? I know what you call an organization that appoints such a CEO: just plain dumb.

The judge who appointed Moscowitze, at the behest of the SEC, is considering contempt penalties against Altomare and the company's general counsel. Stay tuned.

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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