SEC Accuses TV Azteca of Fraud

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The Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday charged Mexican broadcaster TV Azteca SA (search) and its chairman, Ricardo Salinas Pliego, with fraud for a scheme under which it said Salinas reaped $109 million.

The SEC said Salinas and others took part "in an elaborate scheme to conceal Salinas' role in a series of transactions through which he personally profited by $109 million."

A spokesperson for TV Azteca, the second largest television broadcasting company in Mexico, had no immediate comment.

Besides Salinas, the SEC said it charged TV Azteca director and former Chief Executive Pedro Padilla Longoria and director Luis Echarte Fernandez.

The SEC (search) said Echarte settled the action against him, without admitting or denying wrongdoing, and agreed to pay a civil fine of $200,000.

The SEC also alleged that Salinas and Padilla "sold millions of dollars of TV Azteca stock while Salinas' self-dealing remained undisclosed to the marketplace."

The SEC said it is seeking fines, repayment of ill-gotten gains and injunctions against future violations, as well as court orders barring Salinas and Padilla from serving as officers or directors of any U.S.-traded public company.

TV Azteca, based in Mexico City, has American depositary shares that trade on the New York Stock Exchange (search). Its ordinary shares trade on the Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (search).

In New York, TV Azteca shares were down 72 cents, or 7.2 percent, at $9.33 in afternoon trade. In Mexico, the shares were down 0.47 peso at 6.60 pesos.