A research analyst and a former executive who revealed insider information about Apple’s sales have both been charged, reports Reuters. Analyst John Kinnucan on Friday was charged with two counts of securities fraud, two counts of conspiracy and one count of insider trading from a civil case filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Between 2008 and 2010, Kinnucan allegedly paid insiders with cash, trips and other incentives for inside information regarding Apple. Kinnnucan then sold the information to hedge funds for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Separately, former SanDisk executive Don Barnetson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud. “I conspired with a consultant to provide confidential information with respect to my employer at the time, SanDisk Corp,” Barnetson said. Barnetson could faces up to five years in prison but could get leniency for his “substantial cooperation.” Kinnucan could faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the securities fraud counts and one of the conspiracy counts, and up to five years on the other conspiracy count. More →
Seven people have been charged with trading shares of Dell stock based on inside information. Four new arrests were made by the FBI on Wednesday, Reuters said, while three others have already been charged. In total, the group made more than $62 million in profits off of illegal trades in 2008. The defendants named on Wednesday include former portfolio manager Todd Newman of Diamondback Capital Management in Stamford, Anthony Chiasson of Level Global Investors in New York and Jon Horvath. A fourth person was also arrested in Los Angeles. The four men allegedly had early access to Dell’s earnings reports ahead of the company’s public announcements and have each been charged with one count each of securities fraud and one count each of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. More →
Former executive at Apple supplier Flextronics Walter Shimoon pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of security fraud in a Manhattan court on Tuesday. The charges stem from a crackdown on “expert networks,” which make money by connecting hedge funds and financial institutions with industry insiders such as Shimoon. The practice, which had gone widely unmonitored for years, is now said to be under the Securities and Exchange Commission’s microscope. Shimoon was arrested late last year and accused of leaking insider iPhone and iPod sales figures in the third and fourth quarters of 2009. He also leaked details surrounding the iPhone 3GS, which was unreleased at the time, and the still unannounced iPad. Shimoon is scheduled to be sentenced in July 2013 according to The New York Times. More →
Four new arrests were made Thursday as the Securities and Exchange Commission and other U.S. government agencies continue to crack down on “channel checks” and other related practices. The defendants – identified as Walter Shimoon (VP of Business Development at Flextronics), Mark Longoria (supply chain manager at AMD), Manosha Karunatilaka (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd) and James Fleishman (sales manager at an “expert networking” firm) — have been charged with various crimes surrounding alleged insider trading. Court filings indicate that Shimoon, Longoria and Karunatilaka were hired as consultants by Fleishman’s expert networking firm. The men allegedly passed along corporate secrets about Apple, AMD and other companies to two unnamed hedge funds. Court filings also indicate that Shimoon was paid to leak non-public details surrounding the iPhone 4 and iPad ahead of Apple’s public announcements.
“Today’s charges allege that a corrupt network of insiders at some of the world’s leading technology companies served as so-called ‘consultants’ who sold out their employers by stealing and then peddling their valuable inside information,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Over the next many months and beyond, we will continue to enforce the law, police the market, and protect honest businesses and their shareholders by working methodically with the FBI and SEC to root out corporate corruption and insider trading.” More →
Some analysts could soon find themselves in hot water as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into the legality of “channel checks.” Channel checks refer to the practice whereby analysts contact inside sources at manufacturing companies in order to glean inside information. This information often has a tendency to move the market, of course, but the SEC is now trying to determine whether or not the practice should be legal. “Insider trading basically comes down to where you know or ought to know that the person from whom you’re getting this information has a duty to someone else to keep it confidential,” former SEC commissioner Paul Atkins told The Wall Street Journal. “If you go in and pay the mail clerk to give you special information, that’s not proper.” Beyond just the analysts involved, the SEC is also investigating “expert networks,” which get paid to connect investors with inside sources. More →
Remember all of the hoopla surrounding RIM’s hostile takeover of Certicom? Well the Ontario Securities Commission sure does, as it’s alleging that former RIM VP Paul Donald personally profited from the deal thanks to some insider trading. The OSC claims that back in August of 2008, Donald was attending a RIM function where RIM top brass informed him that they were actively trying to acquire the software encryption specialists Certicom — a company whose technology is used in every single BlackBerry smartphone. Although Donald was told that Certicom was resisting the takeover, he quickly purchased 200,000 shares in the company after learning it was “dramatically undervalued,” and shortly thereafter RIM announced its intentions to purchase. That announcement also had RIM run afoul of the OSC, as Certicom’s board asked the commission to block the buyout on the grounds that Certicom investors would get a raw deal. Despite this, the aquisition eventually went through which saw Donald net $295,000 in profit. Donald, who the OSC said acted, “with knowledge of material facts about Certicom that had not been generally disclosed,” and whose purchase of the shares were, “contrary to the public interest,” will be front and center as the OSC holds a hearing on June 7th. More →