SEC Suspends Trading in ACT Clean Technologies Over Alleged BP Interest

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ACT Clean Technologies BP SEC The Securities and Exchange Commission temporarily suspended trading in ACT Clean Technologies (ACLH) stock Tuesday morning, citing concerns about the accuracy and adequacy of the company's statements about BP's (BP) interest in using the company's oil cleaning products in its Gulf of Mexico cleanup efforts.

Trading in the penny stock, which is currently listed on the Pink Sheets, will be halted until June 8, the SEC said in a statement. The regulatory agency cited two areas of concern with ACT's statements involving its oil fluidizer cleaning solution:
(1) British Petroleum's purported expression of interest in using a so-called oil fluidizer technology purportedly licensed to ACT's wholly-owned subsidiary, American Petroleum Solutions, Inc., for use in cleanup operations in the Gulf of Mexico, and its purported request that field tests be conducted on the oil fluidizer technology; and (2) the purported results of field tests finding that the oil fluidizers are effective for use in clean up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.
On May 12, the company said BP had requested Ancon Marine, a contractor that sells the oil fluidizer, to conduct field tests of its patented cleaning fluids, which are designed to remove oil residue from hard surfaces such as ship hulls. Ancon Marine serves as an outside sales representative to ACT's wholly owned subsidiary, American Petroleum Solutions.

In that press release, ACT CEO Russell Kidder stated:
If we successfully remove the oil residue from these hard surfaces as we have previously done in other remediation projects, we believe that BP will order our fluids to assist in the remediation of the continuing damage occurring from the recent oil well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
Fast forward to May 20, when ACT announced its field tests were favorable and showed its products were suitable for removing oil residue from hard surfaces that were "likely to be impacted" by the continuing Gulf of Mexico oil spill. ACT added that its contractor Ancon had submitted the samples and they were under consideration by BP for its oil spill clean up.

But apparently sometime between issuing those press releases and 9:30 a.m. when trading was suspended on Tuesday, ACT's claims of BP's interest in its oil cleaning product came under SEC scrutiny. The commission cautioned investors and brokers to give the company's previous claims a through once over.

ACT issued a statement this morning:
The Company's oil fluidizer testing samples were delivered to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill region at the request of Ancon Marine, Inc., a marine services contractor with extensive experience in the use of the Company's Hard Surface Crude Oil Remover and a provider of services to BP in California and in the Gulf. The product information line cards are presently at the operations command center for further evaluation. The Company believes that prior testing and usage of its oil fluidizer by Ancon and other service contractors and its use in previous oil clean-up situations makes it an effective weapon in the clean-up of hard surface oil contamination.
Stock in ACT stood at a four cents a share, down 3.6%, when trading was suspended.

Ancon Marine and ACT were not immediately available for comment.

ACT is not alone when it comes to having its stock suspended for 10 days under the SEC's 10-day rule. So far this year, the SEC issued 24 suspension orders, including the one involving ACT. Last year, the SEC issued 56 suspension orders.

In ACT's case, it's traded over the counter, so it has to rely on a broker-dealer resuming trading once the suspension has been lifted. If the broker-dealer, however, feels leery about the company, it could take a little while before trading resumes.
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