A Canadian judge has ordered DeepCapture.com, a U.S.-based “anti-naked shorting” web site, off the Internet after a penny stock promoter accused the site of defamation
Altaf Nazerali, a stock promoter in Victoria, British Columbia, claimed in a lawsuit that the site, edited by former Columbia Journalism Review columnist Mark Mitchell, falsely portrayed him as “a criminal, arms dealer, drug dealer, terrorist, Baud artist, gangster, mobster, member of the mafia, dishonest, dangerous and not to be trusted.”
The defendants in the case also included Patrick Byrne, the chief executive of Overstock.com (Nasdaq: OSTK), and High Plains Investments LLC, a fund that Byrne controls. Nazerali alleged in his suit that Byrne owns Deep Capture LLC, the company behind DeepCapture.com.
Nazerali filed suit in Canada on Oct. 19 and an injunction was issued the same day, according to The Province.
Nazerali also named Google Inc., as a defendant, for indexing and linking to the site, as well as GoDaddy.com, the site’s registrar.
Deepcapture.com’s content has been offline since the injunction was issued.
While DeepCapture.com is registered
to a proxy, on an archived version of the site
Byrne lists himself as a Deep Capture reporter and the source of its funding. The site described itself as “a new approach to journalism” and claimed that “that powerful actors have been able to influence or take control of not just the regulators, but also law enforcement, elected officials, national media, and the intellectual establishment. It is our mission to expose this ‘deep capture.’”
Since 2005, Byrne has been complaining that a hidden cabal of hedge funds, brokerages and other financial firms have been systematically seeking to undermine companies — including Overstock — through illegal “naked shorting” of their shares. Byrne contends that journalists, regulators and others have been co-opted by the group.
It’s unclear if an injunction also was issued against Google, named in the suit because it indexed and linked deepcapture.com. Searches on Google.com for “Altaf Nazerali” and “Ali Nazerali” still returns links to Deep Capture’s story.
On an investor’s forum, a post attributed to Byrne said: “Gosh, I go off-line for a few days of R&R and look what happens. It looks like Ali Nazerali wants to go a few rounds. Happy to oblige.”
Nazerali is no stranger to controversy. He or his investment funds have been involved in a number of public companies that have drawn scrutiny from news organizations and regulators.