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Saudi Arabia’s market regulator fined the former chairman of the kingdom’s second-biggest telecom company for insider trading and ordered his investment firm to pay $75 million.

Abdulaziz bin Saleh bin Abdullah Alsaghyir, who was the chairman of Etihad Etisalat Co., was fined 100,000 riyals ($26,600), according to a statement on the Capital Market Authority’s website on Monday. He was also banned from managing portfolios, being an investment adviser and working for any listed companies Saudi Arabia.

Abdulaziz Alsaghyir Business Investment Co., of which Alsaghyir is the founder and chairman, was ordered to pay 280 million riyals for the losses it avoided on its investment portfolio as a result of the violated trades.

Mobily, as the mobile phone operator is known, is recovering from accounting irregularities discovered in 2014 that led to more than 1 billion riyals of losses, a $9 billion slump in market value and cost the company its chief executive officer. Over that year, Alsaghyir’s investment company sold 9.49 million shares in Mobily, or about two-thirds of its stake.

The shares lost 38 percent last year, and are down 2.6 percent this year.

The market regulator started a probe into the company’s finances and the activities of some unidentified executives in 2015.

The CMA also fined:

  • Hisham bin Abdulaziz bin Saleh Alsaghyir and Faisal bin Mohammed bin Abdulmohsen Alashgar 100,000 riyals each
  • Mohammed bin Abdulmohsen bin Mohammed Alashgar was fined 200,000 riyals
  • All three were banned from working for any Saudi-listed company, managing portfolios or working as investment adviser

Source:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-26/saudi-regulator-fines-former-mobily-chairman-for-insider-trading

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Former professional baseball player Doug DeCinces reportedly testified this week in the second trial of the friend and neighbour James Mazzo, the former Advanced Medical Optics CEO accused of insider trading ahead of Abbott‘s (NYSE:ABT) $2.8 billion AMO acquisition in 2009.

Federal prosecutors in 2014 accused Mazzo of tipping former Orioles and Angels player DeCinces about the upcoming merger (Abbott sold the business to Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) for $4.33 billion last year). DeCinces allegedly passed that information on to former teammate Eddie Murray, who later agreed to settle his case for $358,000 but admitted no wrongdoing; DeCinces agreed in 2011 to pony up $2.5 million (but admitted no guilt) to settle similar charges leveled by the SEC and was found guilty of insider trading in May 2017.

Judge Andrew Guilford of the Central California court initially declared a mistrial in Mazzo’s case after a jury deadlocked on the charges against him. But that jury also convicted DeCinces and a business associate on charges of tender offer fraud, despite deadlocking on other charges against DeCinces and all of the charges against Mazzo.

Mazzo, now global ophthalmology president at Carl Zeiss Meditec (ETR:AFX) after a 3-year run as president and CEO at AcuFocus, had argued that there is “no evidence” of him “lying, cheating, or hiding anything.”

After failing to win a bid for dismissal of the second case brought against him last year, Mazzo went to trial again in the California Central court.

In yesterday’s testimony DeCinces confirmed that he bought AMO on Jan. 5, 2009, a day after meeting Mazzo for dinner, according to the LA Times.

After the meal, DeCinces said Mazzo asked if he was comfortable with how much AMO stock he owned.

“Very comfortable,” DeCinces said he replied. “‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,’” Mazzo responded, according to DeCinces.

“As we were leaving, [Mazzo] mouthed the words, ‘Buy more,’” DeCinces said, according to the newspaper. “Based on what I heard the night before, I felt like I did not have enough stock.”

Mazzo’s attorney, Richard Marmaro, then questioned DeCinces’ credibility based on his own trial last year.

“When your lawyer said that Mr. Mazzo never provided insider information, was that the truth?” Marmaro asked DeCinces.

“No,” DeCinces answered.

“Was your attorney not acting without your authorization?” the defense lawyer asked.

“I cannot control what my attorney says,” DeCinces replied, adding that he was “very worried” after making the trades, the paper reported.

“I felt I made a huge mistake,” he said. “At that point, there was nothing I could do to take it back.”

Source:
https://www.massdevice.com/ex-baseball-pro-decinces-testifies-insider-trading-trial/

A former governor of Sri Lanka’s central bank has been accused of insider trading by a damning presidential report into a high-profile bond scandal that cost the island millions.

The long-awaited inquiry recommended the state recover a $4.4 million loss caused by the actions of then bank chief Arjuna Mahendran in 2015.

He leaked sensitive information to his son-in-law Arjun Aloysius, a bond trader, according to the report released Wednesday by the president’s office following an 11-month investigation.

“Mr. Mahendran acted wrongfully, improperly, mala fide, fraudulently and in gross breach of his duties as governor of the CBSL (Central Bank of Sri Lanka),” it said. Mahendran was sacked in 2016.

The scandal has deepened acrimony between President Maithripala Sirisena and his coalition partner Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who handpicked Mahendran to head the central bank.

Sirisena has publicly accused Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) of being more corrupt than the previous regime they toppled together in 2015 after cobbling together an alliance.

The allies ended the 10-year rule of strongman president Mahinda Rajapakse, whose regime had been accused of graft and nepotism, but the bond scandal has shaken the union and damaged their promise of clean governance.

Sri Lanka’s parliament ordered an investigation after legislators’ private phone records were leaked to the presidential commission looking into the scandal.

The commission denied tapping phones, as Sirisena blasted politicians from his own coalition for frustrating the probe.

Sections of the 1,154-page report released a fortnight ago recommended prosecuting Ravi Karunanayake, finance minister at the time of the scandal, for graft and perjury over his links with Aloysius.

He resigned as foreign minister in August last year after his association with the controversial bond dealer went public.

The investigation also recommended a forensic audit of the central bank during the Rajapakse era, saying insider trading had also occurred under his rule.

Source:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-5283601/Former-Sri-Lanka-bank-chief-engaged-insider-trading-probe.html

Hexagon’s chief executive, Ola Rollen, was cleared of insider trading charges by an Oslo court on Wednesday in a unanimous verdict.

Norwegian prosecutors had asked for an 18-month prison term for Rollen’s 2015 purchase of shares in Norway’s Next Biometrics, a company not connected to Hexagon.

One of Sweden’s best known business leaders, Rollen had maintained his innocence throughout the trial and continued to run the company he has led since 2000.

“I remain committed to serving as CEO for Hexagon for as long as the Board and shareholders will allow,” he said in a statement following the verdict.

Rollen’s lawyer argued during the trial that his client did not possess privileged information at the time of the share purchase and that the transactions he made were motivated by his own independent analysis of Next Biometrics.

“I am relieved by the court’s verdict, confirming what I and my lawyers have stated from the beginning; that I did nothing wrong,” Rollen said.

The case dates back to Rollen’s purchase of Next shares on October 6 and 7 2015 on behalf of Greenbridge, an investment firm he co-founded. Prosecutors said this was illegal because Greenbridge was involved in talks to take a larger stake in Next at a higher price.

The maximum sentence the prosecution could have asked for was six years in prison.

Rollen took to Twitter after the verdict, writing “From Oslo with love” and posting a photo of himself pointing to a text that read “if all else fails, try common sense!”

As Hexagon CEO, Rollen has helped transform a sprawling conglomerate with a market value of a few billion crowns in 2000 into an $18 billion technology market leader following a stream of acquisitions and high growth.

Hexagon’s shares fell 10 percent following news of the accusations in October 2016 but the stock is up 25 percent over the last 12 months after reports last June that Hexagon had held talks on a possible sale to a U.S. or European rival.

Norway’s white-collar crimes unit now has two weeks to decide whether to appeal the verdict to a higher court, prosecutor Marianne Bender told Reuters.

“We’ll carefully consider the verdict and whether to file an appeal,” Bender said.

Trading in the shares of Hexagon and Next Biometrics had ended for the day before the verdict was released.

Read More / Source:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hexagon-ab-ceo-trial/ceo-of-swedens-hexagon-found-not-guilty-of-insider-trading-idUSKBN1EZ2DC

South Korean cryptocurrency holders have described a potential exchange ban as “not a big problem” as Seoul launches an investigation into insider trading.

Speaking to mainstream western media about the current turbulent regulatory climate in the country, one holder said opening an account on a foreign exchange or using connections abroad as proxies were both feasible options should the government enact a ban.

The anonymous party told CNBC:

In case the government shuts down all local exchanges, investors can always go abroad and open an account there. […] I can ask my friends who study abroad or travel there myself. It’s not that big of a problem.

Koreans have reacted fiercely to attempts by lawmakers to place restrictions on how they may trade cryptocurrencies. Government statements have contradicted ministerial comments that a full exchange ban is on the cards, but other limitations are set to become law this weekend

STATE INSIDER TRADING UNDER INVESTIGATION

The government’s hand has become significantly weaker meanwhile as news broke Thursday of alleged insider trading by officials who knew the restrictions would shortly be announced and prices would likely fall as a result

According to local news media, the government has launched an investigation into the allegations, with a spokesman from the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) admitting punishments were not guaranteed. This, somewhat ironically, is due to the unregulated status of cryptocurrency in South Korea versus more traditional assets.

ReadMore / Source:
https://bitcoinist.com/south-korea-govt-insider-trading-scandal-traders-refute-exchange-ban/

A federal civil jury in Denver has sided with fallen oilman Roger Parker and his five-year battle against securities-fraud allegations that he tipped buddies about a lucrative deal he was about to land with late-billionaire Kirk Kerkorian in 2007.

The 12-person U.S. District Court jury last week determined that although Parker told close friend and one-time insurance executive Michael Van Gilder about Kerkorian’s planned $684 million investment in Delta Petroleum, he did it innocently and without any plan to profit from it.

Additionally, the jury sided with Parker’s explanation that the information he passed along was merely business chatter among friends, not any devious effort to sidestep rules that would prevent him from personally profiting on Kerkorian’s investment.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s case hinged on immaterial gains Parker allegedly made in the form of luxury trips and personal loans from those who purportedly profited from the insider trades.

The verdict came three months after a federal jury in September couldn’t reach a decision in the civil lawsuit. U.S. District Judge John Kane declared a mistrial and ordered a new one.

The SEC might have settled the case long ago except for Kane’s dislike for settlements in which defendants neither admit nor deny culpabilityyet agree to pay large sums of money to the government to forestall the expense of a protracted trial.

Parker’s attorneys could not be immediately reached, and the SEC declined to comment. It is unclear if the SEC will appeal the verdict.

The jury took about five hours to decide Parker had not personally profited from the insider information he gave Van Gilder, who had pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge of illegal insider trading in connection with the case – the only person charged criminally.

Parker had maintained that it was his friends who were reckless, not he, for using details of the Kerkorian deal to buy and sell on Delta stock, which rose nearly 20 percent when the investment was announced.

Another Parker buddy, investment guru Scott Reiman, had cut a side deal with the SEC in which he returned nearly $900,000 in alleged profits from the Delta deal.

However, the jury decided Parker neither shared any insider info with Reiman about the Kerkorian buy-in, nor that Reiman profited from any trades on anything Parker allegedly had told him.

Source:
http://www.denverpost.com/2017/12/11/roger-parker-sec-trial/

 

A former day-trader admitted to making more than $760,000 as part of a ring that stole confidential information from investment banks and their clients so they could trade on the information, federal authorities said.

Joseph Spera, 56, of Boca Raton, Florida, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of securities fraud in U.S. District Court in Trenton, according to news releases from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Federal authorities say Spera and his conspirators short-sold the securities of at least 13 public companies between June 2010 and July 2013 based on information obtained from the alleged ringleader, Stephen Fishoff, and others. It was Fishoff, according to the SEC, who recruited Spera and his childhood friend, Paul Petrello, into the ring.

Petrello and two others — Fishoff’s friend, Steven Constantin, and Fishoff’s brother-in-law, Ronald Cherin — have already pleaded guilty in federal court and await sentencing. They’ve also agreed to partial settlements with the SEC and may face additional monetary sanctions from the commission.

Fishoff, who has also been indicted in connection with this case, is scheduled to go on trial on March 19, 2018. He’s also facing additional litigation from the SEC.

Spera and others posed as legitimate portfolio managers looking to purchase securities from investment bankers in order to convince bankers to share nonpublic details about upcoming offerings, authorities said. As part of the scheme, Spera and the others entered into “wall-crossing agreements” in which they agreed not to disclose non-public information to others or trade before the offerings were announced.

Instead, Spera and the others violated those agreements and tipped each other with confidential information enabling them to trade for a profit ahead of public announcements.

Spera admitted in his plea that Fishoff tipped him off directly or through Petrello with inside information about confidentially marketed offerings — such as companies’ stock trading symbols, the timing of the offerings, and, sometimes, the pricing of upcoming offerings.

Using this information, Spera, who also admitted to violating one of these “wall-crossing agreements” himself, shorted the stock of the public companies in anticipation of a drop in the stock price when the offerings were disclosed to the public.

The ring allegedly made more than $3.9 million in illicit profits over of the course of three years, including illegal trades they made based on nonpublic information they obtained ahead of a major announcement by a large pharmaceutical company, federal authorities said.

Source:

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2017/12/florida_man_convicted_in_multi-million_insider_tra.html

The Court of Appeals (CA) has cleared businessman and former trade minister Roberto V. Ongpin of insider trading charges involving the shares of Philex Mining Corp. in 2009, reversing a finding made by corporate regulators last year.

Penned by Associate Justice Ma. Luisa Quijano-Padilla, the decision of the CA Former Special 13th Division nullified the July 8, 2016 ruling of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that found Ongpin liable for 174 counts of insider trading under Section 27.1 of the Securities Regulation Code.

“The administrative charge against petitioner [Ongpin] is accordingly dismissed,” the December 1 ruling stated.

The SEC had alleged that Ongpin, then a minority shareholder of Philex Mining, bought additional shares while holding information that the Hong Kong-based First Pacific group led by Manuel V. Pangilinan was bidding for a controlling stake in the mining firm.

Ongpin allegedly engaged in insider trading because he bought these shares in the morning of December 2, 2009 for P19.25-P19.50 apiece despite having previous knowledge of the selling price of P21 per share in relation to the intended block sale in favor of First Pacific, which was set to take place in the evening of the same day.

For the SEC, the P21 per share and the actual date of the block sale are material information which Ongpin failed to disclose when he traded and bought stocks involving 174 transactions in the morning of De. 2, 2009.

Ongpin eventually sold his shares to the subsidiary of First Pacific for P21 per share, thus giving the First Pacific group control over Philex.

The SEC ordered the businessman to pay P174 million in fines, which is 10 times higher than the P17.4 million recommended by the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department (EIPD) which investigated the matter.

Ongpin was also directed to resign from any public company or publicly listed company where he was an officer or a member of the board of directors.

The businessman then questioned the SEC ruling before the CA, arguing there was lack of evidence and that the administrative case had already gone beyond the prescriptive period of two years after discovery of the facts constituting the cause of action and within five years after such cause of action accrued.

He pointed out that the SEC EIPD only issued a show cause order against him in November 2014.

Ongpin secured a temporary restraining order and later a writ of preliminary injunction that stopped the enforcement of the penalties until the case is resolved.

In its ruling, the CA junked the Office of the Solicitor General’s (OSG) contention that the price of P21 per share and the date of the intended block sale are material since the price of Philex shares went down from P19 on December 2, 2009 to P17.75 or about 20.5 percent within two days after the sale in favor of First Pacific.

“While it was alleged that the drop in the price of Philex shares after the information was made public was seen as an ‘unusual occurrence” or a ‘red flag,’ thereby suggesting that any reasonable investor would have considered the subject information material, the OSG however failed to specifically identify what is ‘unusual’ as opposed to a usual or regular fluctuation in stock market prices,” the CA said.

The CA cited the OSG’s admission that the reason why the price of Philex shares went up was because of the ongoing bid war between Pangilinan’s First Pacific and Ramon Ang of diversifying conglomerate San Miguel Corp.

“Based on the premise that it was the active speculation of the investing public which triggered the steady increase in the price of Philex shares, we reckon that the public disclosure of the December 2, 2009 sale in favor of First Pacific simply ended all aggressive speculation, and this inevitably lead to the drop in the market price of Philex shares. Yet, all these incidents cannot be taken as clear and direct indication that there was indeed insider trading,” it added.

The appellate court added that the P21 per share and the date of intended block sale were not “properties” of Philex as these were all part of negotiations between Pangilinan and Ongpin.

“Hence, it is apparent that such information was not attributable to Philex and it could not be considered to have been acquired by petitioner from his insider relationship with Philex. There being no material information involved, petitioner can be said to be trading only upon his own intentions,” the decision read.

The CA also found no legal basis for the P174-million fine imposed by the SEC “considering that said penalty went beyond the confines of the law.”

“For insider trading violations, the SRC itself clearly provided for the minimum amount of fine which is P10,000 and the maximum amount which is P1,000,000 and the penalty to be imposed could not exceed that stated in the law,” the decision stated.

Associate Justices Samuel Gaerlan and Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob concurred with the ruling. —ALG/MDM, GMA News

Source:
http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/money/companies/636232/ca-clears-ongpin-of-insider-trading-raps/story/

 

A Seattle therapist agreed to settle charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that he used inside information from a client who worked at Zulily to make more than $10,000 in profits through stock trades following its acquisition by QVC parent company Liberty Interactive.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Kenneth Peer got inside information from counseling sessions in July 2015 with a Zulily employee that the Seattle e-commerce company would be acquired. Between July 21 and August 10, Peer purchased $28,000 in Zulily stock.

On Aug. 17, the $2.4 billion acquisition was announced, and by the end of the day, Zulily stock had spiked 49 percent. Shortly after the acquisition was announced, Peer allegedly sold his Zulily shares for profits of approximately $10,000.

As part of the settlement, without admitting or denying the allegations, agreed to pay a fine of $21,267.26. That includes paying back the profits he made off the illegal trades, $10,227.73, plus a penalty of the same amount and interest of $811.80.

Source:
https://www.geekwire.com/2017/massage-therapist-learned-zulily-qvc-merger-secrets-client-settles-insider-trading-charges/

A former Amazon financial analyst has been sentenced to six months in prison and a $2,500 fine after admitting he tipped off a college friend to details about the company’s upcoming first-quarter earnings report in spring 2015.

Brett D. Kennedy was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to a federal insider trading charge in September.

Prosecutors said his former fraternity brother at the University of Washington, Maziar Rezakhani, used the information to make $116,000 trading stock and paid Kennedy $10,000. The SEC alleged that Kennedy and Rezakhani planned to start their own hedge fund in New York with their windfall from successful trades.

Kennedy gave up the $10,000 in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Kennedy had worked as a financial analyst at Amazon since 2013.

He apologized to the company for abusing its trust and to his parents for letting them down.

Source:
http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2017/12/08/fmr-amazon-analyst-sentenced-to-prison-for-insider-trading.html

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