May 30, 2024

Trump Media & Technology Group is doubling down on claims that its stock is being illegally traded — this time bringing its concerns to congressional leaders.

Trump Media CEO Devin Nunes called on Congress to carry out a “thorough and expeditious investigation” into what the company claims is “unlawful manipulation” of its stock. Nunes made the request in a letter dated Tuesday to the chairs of the House committees on Judiciary, Financial Services, Ways and Means, and Oversight and Reform.

Nunes said the company’s stock appeared to be manipulated by a practice known as “naked” short-selling, or the illegal sale of shares without borrowing them first. The Trump Media CEO wrote that this was “particularly troubling given that ‘naked’ short selling often entails sophisticated market participants profiting at the expense of retail investors.”

He pointed to Trump Media’s appearance on the Nasdaq’s “Reg SHO threshold list” — a list of securities whose transactions failed to clear at a registered clearing agency for five consecutive days — since April 2 as “indicative of unlawful trading activity” of its stock.

While “naked” short-selling is a potential reason why a security would fail to clear, there are many reasons why a stock could be on the Reg SHO list.

“We assess there are strong indications of unlawful manipulation of DJT stock,” Nunes wrote to the congressional leaders. “As such, I respectfully request that you open an investigation of anomalous trading of DJT to determine its extent and purpose, and whether any laws including RICO statutes and tax evasion laws were violated, so that the perpetrators of any illegal activity can be held to account.”

Trump Media, the company behind former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social, went public on the Nasdaq under the ticker DJT on March 26, after completing its merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

The company said the investigation should include requests for Consolidated Audit Trail trading data, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) data, Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC) information, and Reports from DTCC member firms reflecting total shares short since Feb. 14 (including trading under the ticker symbol DWAC prior to DJT’s March 26 debut).

Shares of Trump Media were on a weeks-long free-fall following the disclosures of multi-million dollar losses from operations in 2023, the registered resale of substantially all of its outstanding securities, and the announcement of its own live TV streaming platform.

Despite the plunge in Trump Media’s stock value, its daily short volume has remained stable, suggesting that sales are coming from long-sellers rather than shorts.

Trump Media stock was up almost 8% on Wednesday afternoon, trading at $35.06 per share and bringing its market cap to $4.78 billion.

Based on data Nunes said was made available to the company, he said just four market participants are responsible for more than 60% of the trading volume of Trump Media shares: Citadel Securities, VIRTUAmericas, G1 Execution Services, and Jane Street Capital.

Nunes penned a similar letter to Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman last week. In response to the letter, a Citadel spokesperson said Nunes “is the proverbial loser who tries to blame ‘naked short selling’ for his falling stock price.”

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