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Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

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Friday, June 5, 2009

SEC Charges Former Employee of Investor Relations Firm with Insider Trading

The SEC charged Zachary Bryant, a former account executive at the Los Angeles office of Lippert Heilshorn & Associates, Inc., an investor relations firm, for repeatedly misappropriating confidential information from firm clients and tipping his current employer and former colleague, who traded on that information and tipped others. As alleged in the Commission’s complaint, the defendants reaped more than $1.4 million in total profits through insider trading. The Commission alleges that  Bryant routinely learned material information about Lippert’s clients before the information was released to the public. The Commission further alleges that Bryant tipped Ahmad Haris Tajyar of Encino, California, in advance of five announcements made by Lippert’s clients. The Commission alleges that Bryant and Ahmad Tajyar met as co-workers in 1997, and Ahmad Tajyar later hired Bryant of North Hollywood, California, to work at Investor Relations International, a Los Angeles-based investor relations firm owned by Ahmad Tajyar.

The Commission’s complaint, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, alleges that on five separate occasions from at least April 2005 through December 2006 Bryant misappropriated nonpublic information from his firm’s clients by illegally tipping Ahmad Tajyar. The complaint further alleges that Ahmad Tajyar traded on the information in his own accounts and in the account of Dionysus Capital, LP, a hedge fund he managed. The complaint alleges that Ahmad Tajyar also tipped his cousin Omar Tajyar and that one of the Tajyars, in turn, tipped and/or traded in the account of a business associate, Vispi Shroff, a certified public accountant. The complaint alleges that the Tajyars, Shroff and Dionysus Capital reaped illegal profits totaling over $1.4 million.

The complaint alleges that the Tajyars, Bryant, and Shroff each violated the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws, Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The Commission is seeking permanent injunctive relief, disgorgement, and civil penalties against all the defendants. The Commission also seeks an officer and director bar against the Tajyars. Finally, the Commission seeks disgorgement from relief defendant, Dionysus Capital, L.P.

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