An alleged shale gas expert who called himself the "frack master" has been accused of orchestrating an $80m (£60.5m) fraud to fund his opulent lifestyle.
Chris Faulkner, chief executive of Breitling Energy Corporation (BECC), is said to have used at least $30m of investor funds for personal expenses, including gentleman's clubs and personal escorts, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Faulkner is also accused of misrepresenting his education, experience and backdrop, which he used to secure appearances on the BBC and Sky News, as well as give evidence during a select committee hearing into shale gas.
"[He] allegedly orchestrated a sophisticated and multilayered scheme using BECC and its affiliated entities as a conduit to access millions of investor dollars,” Shamoil Shipchandler, regional director of the SEC's fort Worth regional office, said.
“The financing for Faulkner’s opulent lifestyle came directly at the expense of unwitting investors across the country.”
The SEC added that Faulkner and two business partners misrepresented various aspects of BECC's operations in public reports. He's also accused of manipulating the company's share price with a former BECC employee by placing trades at the end of the day to “mark the close” of the stock.