Thursday, March 1, 2007
The big news at the SEC today was its announcement of the alleged insider trading ring involving 14 defendants, who included Wall St. professionals, an attorney and hedge funds. Linda Chatman Thomas made a statement, in which she emphasized the magnitude of the alleged trading ring and that these were employees at elite Wall St. firms, who took steps to cover their tracks. She warned:
Today's case demonstrates the Commission's resolve and ability to aggressively investigate and prosecute insider trading. I think it is worth noting that in both of the schemes alleged in our complaint -- the "UBS Scheme" and the "Morgan Stanley Scheme" - the original tippers, Mr. Guttenberg and Ms. Collotta, took steps to evade detection. Neither traded in their personal accounts. Both received kickbacks that were paid in cash. In fact, Mr. Guttenberg and his tippees even used disposable cell phones, secret codes, and discreet meeting places to attempt to conceal their actions.
Some defendants may have thought they were flying "under the radar" by making modest profits on individual transactions, secure in the knowledge that, over hundreds of tips, they would reap millions of dollars in illicit trading profits. And yet - despite their best efforts to avoid detection - we caught them.
Today's events should send a message to anyone who believes that illegal insider trading is a quick and easy way to get rich. No matter how clever you are, no matter how hard you try to avoid detection, you underestimate us at your peril. We are passionate about protecting investors and the integrity of our markets. And if we catch you, we will use all resources at our disposal to hold you accountable.