In the early days of 2020, few people were paying much attention to an obscure Vancouver-based oil company with an unproven project in little-known Namibia.
But around that time something happened that evidently piqued the interest of a securities regulator. On Jan. 14, shares in Reconnaissance Energy Africa Ltd. (ReconAfrica) rocketed up 40 per cent on volume that was nine times higher than the day before.
On Jan. 15, ReconAfrica said in a news release it could not think of any significant reason for the astonishing surge in trading.
Then, two days later, at the request of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), the company revealed it had paid $120,000 to a German media company, Bull Markets Media, for an aggressive stock promotion campaign. (The company trades on the TSX Venture Exchange and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.)
As part of the campaign, German stock promoter Gunther Goldherz had been paid to write several highly speculative articles about ReconAfrica – including one on Jan. 14 on the site goldherzreport.de – that compared its stock to a jackpot-winning lottery ticket.
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