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 05/05/04  Appeals Court Upholds Fraud Verdict Against Asensio
   04/04/04  Asensio Charged Again
  
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12/24/03  How Asensio Duped Regulators                                                                            
  
     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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Asensio Under Oath 

When he took the stand in the Hemispherx trial, Asensio portrayed himself as a man of modest means.  One who had been shunned by Wall Street.  And perhaps even a victim of ethnic prejudice.

He explained why he decided to study for an MBA at Harvard after working in Venezuela for a few years:

No one in the United States was going to give me any credit for what I had done in Venezuela.  And I was still some Cuban that had gone to Wharton evening school. So coming back here I knew I wasn't going to get a job.

He then told the jury that even with MBA in hand, he still could not get a job.

I did not get a job between the first year and the second year [of Harvard] and I did not get a job when I graduated.  So for all of my career I've been an independent.   What money I've made, I've made through hard work and independent work.   

He seemed not to realize that he contradicted his claim of lifelong independence when he acknowledged working at Bear Stearns.

He called his year there "the only job I had."


The Only Job He Had?

It was a remarkable claim. Because by every indication but his own testimony, Asensio has had plenty of jobs since finishing his MBA.  According to the New York Times:

After he got his securities license, Mr. Asensio moved around a lot; he was affiliated with more than a dozen firms before he founded Asensio & Company in 1993.

His NASD file shows that during the last 10 years alone, he had jobs at Gilford Securities and Capital Management Group.  It's also obvious that he worked at Steinberg & Lyman; Norman Murphy could not have sued him if he hadn't.   The Miami Herald reports that he worked at Laidlaw Holdings, too.  And since this page was originally posted, two more employers have surfaced in official records:  Ladenburg Thalman and Marquette De Bary.  

There's also this, from a brief in the Hemispherx case:

Between 1993 and 1996, he [Asensio] was affiliated with First Hanover Securities, a mob-related enterprise which has also since been barred from the industry for fraudulent securities dealings.

And his claim to have had but one job is only the beginning.

The Most Money He Ever Had?

He also told jurors that when he came back from Venezuela:

I had about $70,000  . . .  I brought it back and it was enough for me to pay for those two years [of Harvard] . . . Relative to my expenses, it's probably more money than I ever had in my life.

It was a curious change for a man who has bragged about the "enormous amount of money" he has made.  Only two years earlier, he told the Wall Street Journal that he earned more than $6 million in 1997 and again in 1998.

Also, Asensio & Company, of which he is 70% owner, shorted almost a million dollars worth of Hemispherx stock in 1998 for its own account.   Whether it would have been possible to do this with less than $70,000 at his disposal seems debatable.

Accurate testimony?  Or an attempt to make it appear that Goliath was suing poor Manuel "David" Asensio?

"We've Never Spoken to the Companies"

In the South Carolina trial, Asensio needed to explain his willingness to brand a company as a "fraud" when he had never spoken to its management or scientific experts.  He repeatedly replied that Asensio & Company policy prohibited him from soliciting their side of the story.  In his words:
 

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Asensio has a policy never to contact any employee or representative of a company it is investigating  (affidavit, 2/13/01).
 

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We haven't spoken to Hemispherx.  . . We've done 27 deals; we've never spoken to the companies (deposition, 3/4/02).
 

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I testified we have a policy not to speak to any agent or officer or director of the companies which we have negative opinions about publicly, or which we intend to have negative opinions about publicly (trial testimony, 3/20/02).


Odd indeed.  Because between the time of the first and last statements, he made at least a half dozen such contacts.  And even provided the evidence on his website, in the form of correspondence referring to repeated contacts he initiated via letter or in person.  

Only two months after the trial, he also posted a letter he sent to a company official.  In it, he directly contradicts his sworn statements by expressing his "willingness to speak with you at any time." 

As for his claim that he's never spoken to Hemispherx, the Wall Street Journal describes a scene where Asensio took pains to walk right up to its CEO and do exactly that.

"Never Retracted a Single Statement"

Asensio also claims in his affidavit that he "has never paid any amount in settlement [of a lawsuit] and has never retracted a single statement."

However, he has removed entire series of reports from his website.  His so-called "Complete Record of Research Reports" is not quite that, for it excludes reports on Zonagen and Vivus.  Court documents and an article from Motley Fool refer to those reports--and Motley Fool provides two links to them.  But the links no longer work, and it appears that their contents were deliberately removed. 

Which many people might consider a retraction.

Not to Mention These

A few more comments worth noting.  First, from his testimony in the Hemispherx case:

I formed one small brokerage firm which did not amount to much right out of school in 1982. . . And it was called First Boca Raton Investment Corp. . . .   The shell was actually an investment bank. But I didn't have any capital for that shell, so I sold it . . .

Perhaps he did,  but the Florida Secretary of State has no record of a sale. It shows only a name change--to Viceroy International Securities, a firm that regulators barred from the industry.

At the South Carolina trial, Asensio was asked how he determined that little demand existed for a device that would let doctors test for jaundice without drawing blood.  He attributed his conclusion to "what I heard on the phone."

"On the phone with who, sir?" asked the plaintiffs' lawyer.

"On the phone with people that I don't remember I spoke to, but that I spoke to," replied Asensio.

As for the most memorable moment, it is probably this exchange, from his March 2002 deposition.
 

Asensio:  I have two individuals that work for me, Charles Stewart and Lorena.

Plaintiffs' Attorney:  I'm sorry.  The second name, sir?

Asensio:  Lorena.

Plaintiffs' Attorney:  Can you spell that?

Asensio's Attorney:  L-o-r-e-n-a.

Plaintiffs' Attorney:  And the last name?

Asensio:  I don't know it.

Plaintiffs' Attorney:  How long has she been working for you?

Asensio:  I don't know.

Lorena's last name is easily found in asensio.com's listing in the WHOIS database.  It's a very unusual name.  And remarkably similar to several aliases that have promoted Asensio on an Internet message board of one of his targets.  With no mention of a brokerage firm affiliation.

As for his statements under oath, readers can decide for themselves whether he told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

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Update, February 18, 2003

Today, the man who repeatedly stated under oath that he has a policy against contacting any company that is or might become a short pick, unveiled his redesigned website.  

It includes a section entitled Letters to Companies.  

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Page Created 1/03/03   Updated 2/18/03