ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Former Gov. Toney Anaya has reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in a fraud case involving an investment company that was focused on recovering and selling water from aquifers in New Mexico and elsewhere.
The SEC announced Wednesday that Anaya was one of four people charged with concealing from investors that two lawbreakers ran the company, Natural Blue Resources Inc.
Anaya, a former CEO of the company, agreed to a cease-and-desist order without admitting or denying the charges.
The SEC said Anaya has cooperated extensively with the investigation. Still, as part of the settlement, he's barred from participating in any offering of a penny stock for at least five years.
Natural Blue's mission was to invest in environmentally friendly companies and was backing an initiative to locate, purify and sell water recovered from aquifers in the state and other places with depleted resources.
"What investors didn't know was that two individuals with prior law violations — James E. Cohen and Joseph Corazzi — secretly controlled the operational and management decisions of Natural Blue while calling themselves outside 'consultants,'" the SEC said in a statement.
Cohen, who lives in Florida, was previously incarcerated for financial fraud. Joseph Corazzi, of Albuquerque, was previously charged with violating federal securities law and permanently barred from acting as an officer or director of a public company.
"Investors in Natural Blue had a right to know who was running the company behind the scenes," said Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC's Enforcement Division.
The SEC contends Anaya and Erik Perry, another former chief executive, misled investors by failing to disclose that Cohen and Corazzi were running the company despite their histories.
Anaya served as Natural Blue's CEO from August 2009 to January 2011. He said Wednesday he could not comment on the case until the investigation is complete.
The commission has suspended trading of Natural Blue stock.