Investigators Identify Prime Suspect in Ampio Pharmaceuticals' Misleading Bear Raid


LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire -01/05/12)- Officials at Greenwood Colorado based Ampio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMPE - News) have apparently been busy following up on a promise to track down and take action against individuals involved in publishing factually inaccurate and materially misleading information which was distributed on the internet about the Company.

In mid-December, the company issued a firm statement against the publication of various anonymously published articles which crippled the stock price and injured the reputation of the company that discovers and develops new uses for previously approved drugs and new molecular entities.

This after reports began to surface that short selling funds -- some of whom were paying up to a 40% premium in order to borrow shares of the security in order to short it -- had organized efforts to spook investors by using what some consider libelous and misleading articles against the company.

Investigators working with the firm have now reportedly identified Peter Benjamin Bortel as the primary suspect and individual who claimed authorship of those articles as "The Banker." Individuals close to the investigation shared documents with BioMedReports that identify Bortel, who currently resides in Washington State where he operates two fund companies Bortel Investment Management and Tiburon Opportunity Fund.

Allegedly, Bortel hid behind an alias, anonymously published the articles and then publicly disclosed along with others that they stood to benefit financially from a decline in Ampio's stock price.

One person involved in helping to carry out the detailed investigation spoke on condition of anonymity and stated: "If Mr. Bortel is not the person behind this scheme, then perhaps he should do whatever he can to help us identify the person posing as him, using his email and touting his funds' financial accomplishments." When asked if other individuals may have profited from the short selling the investigator indicated that the extent of those details were not yet clear. "It could be that the people invested in the funds may not even be aware that this individual purposely attempted to hide his identity in order to help mislead Ampio's shareholders or that the SEC has already had to take action against him for other missteps in the recent past."

A search through public records does reveal previous fraud charges against Bortel and other respondents by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which deemed it appropriate and in the public interest that such proceedings be instituted pursuant to Sections 203(e) and 203(k) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

An article in the Puget Sound Business Journal published in June reports the details of the alleged fraud and eventual settlement of charges with the SEC for a combined $165,000.

At this point, it is unclear what Ampio Pharmaceuticals intends to do with the newly surfaced information. When contacted about the matter, officials at the company would only state on the record that they are investigating the options available to them and will be making a determination shortly.

As reported previously, one law firm who conducted a fact check on the original article against the company determined that it contained a dozen or more factually incorrect statements which may have been published to deliberately mislead investors and disrupt the public markets.

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