Thursday, March 01, 2007

 

SEC Charges 14 in Wall Street Insider Trading Ring

SEC Charges 14 in Wall Street Insider Trading Ring

Defendants Include Hedge Funds, Lawyers and Professionals at UBS, Bear Stearns, and Morgan Stanley

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2007-28

Washington, D.C., March 1, 2007 - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today 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.

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.

"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," said SEC Enforcement Director Linda Chatman Thomsen. "Illegal insider trading undermines the level playing field that is the hallmark of our capital markets. It is, however, particularly pernicious when Wall Street insiders — who derive their already substantial livelihood from the capital markets and those markets' investors — shamelessly compromise the markets' integrity and investors' trust for a quick buck."

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."

According to the SEC complaint, Mitchel Guttenberg, an executive director in the equity research department at UBS, provided material, nonpublic information concerning upcoming UBS analyst upgrades and downgrades to traders Eric Franklin and David Tavdy, in exchange for sharing in the illicit profits from their trading on that information. Franklin and Tavdy illegally traded on this inside information personally, for the hedge funds Franklin managed, and for the registered broker-dealers where Tavdy was a trader. Franklin and Tavdy also had a network of downstream tippees who illegally traded on this inside information, including a third hedge fund, a day-trading firm, and three registered representatives at Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc.

Several of those who illegally traded on the UBS information, and others, also traded ahead of corporate acquisition announcements using information stolen from Morgan Stanley. According to the complaint, Randi Collotta, an attorney in the global compliance department of Morgan Stanley, together with her husband, Christopher Collotta, an attorney in private practice, provided material, nonpublic information concerning upcoming corporate acquisitions involving Morgan Stanley's investment banking clients to Marc Jurman, a registered representative at a Florida broker-dealer. Jurman then traded on this information and shared his illicit profits with the Collottas. Jurman also tipped Robert Babcock, a registered representative at Bear Stearns, who traded on the information and tipped Franklin, a hedge fund managed by Franklin, and another registered representative at Bear Stearns.

As a result of the conduct described in the complaint, the Commission alleges that each named defendant violated the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The Commission's complaint seeks permanent injunctive relief, disgorgement of illicit profits with prejudgment interest, and the imposition of civil monetary penalties.

The Commission's complaint names the defendants and includes the allegations set forth below:

The Commission acknowledges the assistance of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Commission's investigation is ongoing.

# # #

For more information, contact:

Scott W. Friestad
Associate Director
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
(202) 551-4962

Robert B. Kaplan
Assistant Director
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
(202) 551-4969

Additional materials: Litigation Release No. 20022

http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2007/2007-28.htm

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