By Sarah N. Lynch and Suzanne Barlyn
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former New York Governor David Paterson and entertainment industry executive Charles Koppelman were charged by U.S. regulators on Friday for failing to report in a timely manner their stock trades in a startup film company that is now at the heart of an alleged fraud scheme.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said that Paterson and Koppelman, who were directors of Moon River Studios <MDNT.PK>, each agreed to pay a $25,000 penalty to settle the case without admitting or denying the charges.
The SEC separately charged a third director, former New York Republican Party Finance Committee Chairman Matthew T. Mellon II, for failing to file timely reports on his stock trades. Mellon plans to litigate the case in the SEC's in-house court.
"Matt Mellon was an outside director who resigned in protest over what was happening at the company," said his attorney Edward Little. "We are disappointed that the SEC would pursue such a ridiculous claim."
Michael Ference, an attorney for Paterson and Koppelman, said his clients never sold a share of company stock and were not complicit in any wrongdoing. "They're happy to have it behind them," he added.
The SEC said the three directors were not participants in the alleged fraud at Moon River Studios.
The regulator alleges that the former CEO, Manu Kumaran, and his successor Jake Shapiro, misled investors by claiming the company was constructing its touted "Studioplex" - a project that never materialized and was shuttered without producing a single film.
The SEC also charged Kumaran, Shapiro and Roger Miguel, the CEO of a separate successor public company called Fonu2 <FONU.PK> which the SEC said operated under the name Moon River Studios, with backdating and falsifying promissory notes.
Miguel has settled the case and will be barred from serving as a public company director for five years. Kumaran and Shapiro will litigate the case in court.
Shapiro's attorney declined to comment on the case. Attorneys for Miguel and Kumaran were not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, additional reporting by Suzanne Barlyn in New York, editing by Alan Crosby, G Crosse)