Мне особенно понравился пассаж про биотехнологию
Working for warrants had its downside, though. It put Giuliani in business with typical denizens of the penny-stock world—dreamers and the occasional scam artist—flogging long shots. It also put the ex-mayor in the position of appearing to sell his name and endorsement for cash. Perhaps the worst such case was Applied DNA Sciences. Giuliani Partners’ brief hookup with the Los Angeles–based biotech is a story both alarming and absurd.Насчот ридера у меня большие сомнения--туфту гонят, поди.
This over-the-counter penny-stock company had been founded in 2002 to market an anti-counterfeiting invention, based on the research of one Dr. Jun-Jei Sheu, a Taiwanese scientist. Dr. Sheu had figured out how to embed the DNA of plants in almost anything, from driver’s licenses to dress labels to DVDs. Since each sample of plant DNA was, like human DNA, unique, this “embedded” DNA could serve as an immutable identification marker.
Unfortunately, the company hadn’t perfected the other half of the equation: a marketable scanner that could “read” the DNA. Without that reader, the embedded DNA would be of no use. By August 2004, says one former insider, “the company had no product, no sales, and no hope of signing any customers in the immediate future.” (Jim Hayward, current C.E.O. of Applied DNA Sciences, replies, “The company did have the technology to sell. But how does one sell biotechnology without a scientist on board?”—since Dr. Sheu was in Taiwan.)
The first payment of $500,000 to Giuliani Partners nearly cleaned out the company’s bank account, leaving it with $1,832 in cash and $4.8 million in liabilities. This wasn’t promising. Even less so was the fact that a backer and major shareholder of Applied DNA Sciences was Richard Langley Jr., an S.E.C.-disciplined stock swindler. (“When Giuliani Partners was retained,” says managing director Steven Oesterle, “Mr. Langley was not a member of the management team, nor was he involved in any discussions, negotiations, or other activities related to Giuliani Partners.”)
Langley had colluded in a classic pump-and-dump stock scheme in the mid-1990s. A worthless penny stock called Pollution Control International was promoted by a circle of brokers, all of whom appeared to be in on the con. Those sales pushed the stock up just long enough for the insiders to cash out their chunks before it fell back to earth.
One of the brokers Langley did business with, as it turned out, was an F.B.I. agent working undercover for exactly the sort of dragnet that Rudy Giuliani orchestrated in his years as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Langley had little choice but to plead guilty and cooperate with the F.B.I. On October 2, 2007, after years of hearings during which he was allowed to remain free, his case was finally closed.
Somehow, despite his guilty plea and a cease-and-desist order from the S.E.C. prohibiting him from participating in penny-stock offerings, Langley was able to help start Applied DNA Sciences in 2002. When a marketable “reader” failed to materialize, the company issued one press release after another that suggested amazing partnerships in the offing. The partnerships were real, though somewhat hypothetical without the reader, and they generated no revenues. They did, however, help keep the share price afloat, and Langley routinely sold chunks of his stock. As a former U.S. attorney who spent a lot of his time going after Wall Street criminals, Giuliani might have noted the almost daily appearance of Langley’s name on S.E.C. filings as a seller of Applied DNA shares. Apparently, neither he nor his colleagues ever did. (“As strategic consultants, Giuliani Partners provided advice regarding business practices and opportunities,” says Oesterle. “There was nothing brought to our attention to go beyond the agreed-upon scope.”)
Applied DNA’s prospects were decidedly shaky. And yet, as Giuliani later noted admiringly to Vanity Fair, “they were raising a great deal of money.” The main source of that capital, however, was a dubious Manhattan investment bank called Vertical Capital Partners. The firm had been founded only two years before. Yet, it had already been fined $75,000 by the National Association of Securities Dealers and suspended from underwriting for six months. In addition, the association had personally fined Vertical’s president, Ronald Heineman, $50,000. A year later, Heineman and Vertical were also fined $22,500 for violating the S.E.C.’s disclosure policy on research reports.
No one at Giuliani Partners noticed these red flags, either. (“Vetting service providers for Applied DNA was not Giuliani Partners’ responsibility,” says Oesterle.) What mattered was that Vertical was getting ready to deliver $5,482,993 to Applied DNA in new capital from Wall Street investors. When an in-depth article, by Edward Iwata, on the biotech’s rocky ride appeared in USA Today, on March 18, 2005, Giuliani Partners awoke from its torpor. Within three weeks, it ended its contract with Applied DNA and abandoned all hope of exercising its warrants. It kept its fees, though: $1.25 million in all.
Today, Applied DNA Sciences is under new management. It has developed a marketable reader at last, says C.E.O. Hayward, and has booked its first revenues (though not, he acknowledges, its first profits: to date, the company has lost $95 million). “It has remarkable promise,” Hayward says. “From governments to consumers, so much can be affected by counterfeiting and product diversion,” everything from prescription drugs to toys. Now that it has the reader, Hayward says, “this is a company that can do well by doing good.”
Vertical Capital Partners has fared less well. In early 2007, it was hit with a cease-and-desist order from the S.E.C. for overcharging its clients. It now operates as Arjent.