Madera mining company charged with defrauding gold investors
A Clovis man and his Madera-based mining company were charged Thursday with defrauding investors out of $16 million in a fruitless gold mining venture.
Nekekim Corporation and chief executive Kenneth Carlton, who lives in Clovis, settled the charges Thursday without admitting guilt.
Nekekim agreed to provide copies of the judgment to future investors for the next three years. Carlton agreed to pay a $50,000 penalty and is prohibited from managing and selling securities for the company.
The federal Securities and Exchange Commission, which filed the charges, alleged that between 2001 and 2010, Nekekim and Carlton falsely represented an investment opportunity involving a special “complex ore” found at the company’s mining site in Nevada that contained gold deposits worth at least $1.7 billion.
Carlton showed investors test results from two small labs that used unconventional methods to test the ore for gold. But he withheld other tests that indicated the mine had little if any gold, the complaint said.
Carlton also told investors that a physicist, who actually had no scientific training, was developing a confidential gold extraction technique licensed by Nekekim.
He then promoted other extraction methods to give investors hope that the company was close to perfecting a way of separating the gold, the complaint said. Carlton could not be reached for comment.
More than 100 people in California, Florida, New Jersey and foreign countries including Canada, Australia and Singapore invested in the company’s plan to extract gold. Some gave money more than once.
“Carlton touted cherry-picked test results and convinced shareholders to keep investing in Nekekim by claiming success was just around the corner,” Marc Fagel, director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office, said in a news release.
“Investors should be wary of mining ventures claiming vast deposits of gold and precious metals that can only be extracted through mysterious, untested techniques.”
By BoNhia Lee