Thursday, March 1, 2007
The SEC charged 14 defendants in a brazen insider trading scheme that netted more than $15 million in illegal insider trading profits on thousands of trades, using information stolen from UBS Securities LLC and Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc. The SEC complaint alleges that eight Wall Street professionals, including a UBS research executive and a Morgan Stanley attorney, two broker-dealers and a day-trading firm participated in the scheme. The defendants also include three hedge funds, which were the biggest beneficiaries of the fraud.
"Our action today is one of several that will make very clear the SEC is targeting hedge fund insider trading as a top priority," said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. See SEC Charges 14 in Wall Street Insider Trading Ring.
The scheme involved unlawful trading ahead of upgrades and downgrades by UBS research analysts and corporate acquisition announcements involving Morgan Stanley's investment banking clients. The ringleaders of the UBS part of the scheme went to great lengths to hide their illegal conduct, first through a clandestine meeting at Manhattan's famed Oyster Bar and eventually the use of disposable cell phones, secret codes and cash kickbacks before the scheme unraveled.
SEC Associate Director of Enforcement Scott W. Friestad said, "Today's action is one of the largest SEC insider trading cases against Wall Street professionals since the days of Ivan Boesky and Dennis Levine. It involves fraud by employees of some of the biggest brokerage and investment banking firms in the country. We will do everything possible to make sure that, in addition to any other remedies or sanctions imposed, none of these individuals ever works in the securities industry again."