What’s up with Shia LaBeouf and InterOil?Earlier this week, we noted the actor’s investing tips from a GQ profile, including energy company InterOil:
“Look at IOC. IOC’s momentum is major and it will surprise to the upside.”
Hey, plenty of people are betting on oil, so why not?
But there’s a back-story to the very specific pick. As felon-turned-financial blogger Sam Antar and others have implied, the apparent reason for choosing IOC at virtual random is Shia’s relationship with brokerage John Thomas Financial.
As part of his Wall Street preparation, LaBeouf spent time at John Thomas in New York to understand high finance. So good was the training, LaBeouf says, he turned a $20,000 investment into $489,000 with the help of advisers at John Thomas and others.
It’s not clear if any of that investment was in IOC, which is still up nearly 150% over the past 12 months despite slipping recently. But at least knowledge and interest in the company appears to come from LaBeouf’s mentors at the upstart Wall Street brokerage.
John Thomas’ Wayne Kaufman has called IOC their “favourite energy stock,” and the financial brokerage has a prior investment banking relationship with InterOil, via Clarion Finanz, according to Antar. (Antar has accused InterOil, John Thomas, and Clarion of a stock market manipulation scheme; in response, Thomas Belesis, CEO of John Thomas, calls Antar a liar and an “idiot.”)
Regardless, Belesis adamantly denies LaBeouf was paid or asked to pump IOC’s stock.
“That is preposterous and it’s laughable to the extent where if I laugh too hard, I don’t want to give myself a heart attack,” says Belesis. “InterOil is a company we have done very well with to our investors…but in no way, shape or form was he paid or anything of that nature.”
Belesis does say that LaBeouf may have picked up on the stock from hanging around his brokerage.
“He’s his own man, he does his own thing,” says Belesis. “He was filming Wall Street, he was around everything, he felt like he liked something and he has every right to buy something if he feels it’s a good investment for himself.”
But Belesis says it’s possible InterOil was part of LaBeouf’s apparently exploding portfolio: “IOC has done so extraordinarily well, I would think that probably could be a part of it.”
LaBeouf’s publicist, Melissa Kates of Viewpoint, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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