insider trading examples

Insider Trading Examples And Its Consequences

What are some of the most notable insider trading examples of when people traded on information that the general public didn’t have? Let’s dive in.

Martha Stewart

Stock in the company Imclone was owned by Martha Stewart. When ImClone was founded in 1997. It was met with a warning that the FDA has decided not to approve a new prescription medicine. On which the business has spent millions. Sam Waskal, CEO of ImClone, called his stockbroker to sell off his holdings in the company to prevent more financial losses. When it was reported that the FDA had rejected ImClone’s new cancer medication. 

Martha Stewart’s broker informed her that the CEO was liquidating the firm stock. And that it would be to her financial benefit to follow suit by selling off her own shares of the company. Family life for CEO Samuel Waskal appears to have been untouched by the company’s stock price drop. Shares of the company plummeted from $50. After Martha Stewart sold her holdings in anticipation of the rejection, to $10 in the months that followed. Waskal was sentenced to more than seven years in jail. And fined $4.3 million in 2003, at which time she was also removed from her position as CEO of her company.

Why It Matters

Legally speaking, Martha Stewart may not have broken a fiduciary duty to the other investors. Because she was not an officer of the firm and had no genuine obligation to inform the other investors. So, maybe Martha Stewart wouldn’t have been convicted of insider trading if she’d admitted her actions right away.

Though she returned to the public eye, Stewart claimed that her time in jail. Had taught her to be wary of seemingly brilliant investment suggestions.

A man thinks while he looks at papers

Enron CEO

Outsider trading was the worst of the many offences former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling committed. That was the result of his deceiving investors by covering up the company’s dire financial situation. When he began selling off his stock, insider trading began. Since Skilling was the company’s CEO and the mastermind behind the scam. He understood that his company was nothing more than a paper tiger, but the investors didn’t. An American federal jury found Skilling guilty on 19 counts in 2006. Among those was insider trading.

Why It Matters

Skilling did an Al Capone on this, and that’s why it’s significant. Just as you’re still required to pay taxes on your earnings. Even if they came from illegal activities like bootlegging and narcotics trafficking. So too is it considered insider trading if the secret information you’re using to make trades is the fact that you’re a high-ranking company executive? Who has been cooking the books? Skilling would have been guilty of all the other offences. Except insider trading, if he had acknowledged to the investing public that he was actively cheating them.

Bryan Shaw and Scott London

KPMG is one of the “big four” accounting firms that handle significant corporate accounts. And Scott London was a very successful executive who became a partner there. Nonetheless, London had a Southern California pal named Bryan Shaw who owned a failing jewellery store and was a fellow golfer. London saw an opportunity to help out a buddy. So he began sending along advice his pal could use to make some additional cash, reasoning that the illicit profit would be little.

This was a downward spiral from the beginning. London said he was unaware of how much Shaw was making from the agreements (the final amount was $1.27 million), despite accepting cash and fancy presents from Shaw. London was found guilty of insider trading in 2013 and received a 14-month prison term. Thanks to his cooperation with the police, Shaw was given a reduced sentence of five months in prison.

Why It Matters

Of particular note is the case’s emphasis on the necessity of insider trading prohibitions. London’s intention to break certain regulations in order to aid a buddy initially appears to be harmless. The reality remains, however, that some people lost out as Shaw benefited. In order to help his friend this one time, he probably harmed other investors who were counting on a level playing field. Shaw may have fooled London, but his actions should be seen in the context of his efforts to create a level playing field for the market.

A man is on the phone with someone

Raj Rajaratnam

Billionaire hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam made an estimated $60 million through insider trading with fellow traders, hedge fund managers, and key workers from IBM, Intel Corp, and McKinsey & Co. In 2009, a judge sentenced him to 14 years in prison and a $92.8 million fine for conspiracy and fraud. In court, prosecutor Reed Brodsky called Rajaratnam “probably the most heinous inside trader ever convicted.” Because he amassed a fortune by building a network of insiders who supplied him with corporate secrets. With the use of the first-ever phone wiretaps used in an insider trading case, he was finally caught. Because of the importance of Raj Rajaratnam, we have decided to dedicate an entire article to him.

Why It Matters

The Rajaratnam case gained notoriety mostly because of how federal investigators established his crimes. Investigators deployed wiretaps for the first time to attempt to catch an insider trading accused. He was repeatedly recorded talking about insider information with coworkers and friends. The case constituted a significant advancement in the enforcement of insider trading rules. Wiretaps had previously been used as evidence against members of organized crime or drug traffickers. Their use in insider trading was a signal that regulators were beginning to take the problem seriously.

Steven A. Cohen

Steven A. Cohen is a household name on Wall Street thanks to his phenomenally successful hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors. The organization started out on the right foot, but as it flourished, its commitment to transparency waned. According to the SEC’s major insider trading case, some employees at SAC Capital habitually circumvented the laws around non-public information, resulting in enormous gains for the firm.

To get more specific, the case that ultimately caused SAC problems concerned two workers who illegally gained massive profits by using insider information regarding scientific trials. The case ended in over $2 billion in fines in 2013 and a two-year ban from handling outside money Cohen. Still, he escaped jail time and harsher penalties since it was determined that he had failed to conduct sufficient monitoring rather than encourage the practice.

Why It Matters

Hedge funds are complex financial vehicles that are often beyond the comprehension of general investors. They employ a wider variety of techniques, trade in a wider variety of assets. And ultimately take more risks in pursuit of greater gains. Hedge funds continue to attract the wealthy and powerful, even though their returns after fees are typically lower than those of a traditional index fund. Most are professionally operated by trustworthy individuals who put the interests of their customers first. Some of the top officials have different plans.

Penalties For Insider Trading

The penalties for insider trading include imprisonment, monetary fines, or both. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) states that a fine of up to $5 million and a prison term of up to 20 years may be imposed for insider trading.

What is Insider Trading?

Insider trading is the prohibited act of buying and selling stocks using secret knowledge. According to U.S. law, which forbids fraudulent conduct in connection with purchases or sales on a public stock exchange, including Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 of that same statute, it is a federal offence subject to fines and imprisonment (i.e., insider trading).

Hypothetical Examples of Insider Trading

  • A friend who owns a sizable stock in the company is given important information about the acquisition of the CEO’s company. In response to the revelation, the friend sells all of his shares before word of it reaches the general public.
  • A government worker purchases shares of a company that exports sugar after learning that a new regulation is due to be passed that will benefit the company. This is done before word of the legislation reaches the general public.
  • An executive overhears a discussion regarding a merger, comprehends its market implications, and as a result, purchases shares of the firm in his father’s account.
  • A senior employee of a corporation overhears a session in which the CFO discusses how severe financial issues will force the company into bankruptcy. The worker is aware that his acquaintance has stock in the business. The worker informs his friend that he must sell his stock immediately.

Real-life Examples of Insider Trading

James McDermott Jr.

James McDermott Jr. appeared to be leading a luxurious lifestyle while earning $4 million a year as CEO and chairman of Wall Street investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. He also appeared to be spending every evening with his wife and two kids at their house. However, McDermott’s prim banking persona concealed the truth. He was detained in 1999 on suspicion of giving information to his mistress, a Canadian adult film star, about five impending bank mergers. By exploiting her specialised knowledge, Marilyn Star, also known as Kathryn Gannon. He was able to earn $80,000, which ultimately resulted in McDermott’s arrest. In the end, he admitted guilt to an insider trading charge and was imprisoned for five months.

Michael Milken

Milken, sometimes known as the “Junk Bond King,” was a pioneer in the purchase and sale of corporate debt with low ratings. Authorities claim that in 1989, he made trades in the associated companies’ stock using inside information about the debt being utilised in corporate takeover deals. In 1990, he reached a settlement by admitting guilt to securities fraud and paying a $600 million punishment. His former employer Drexel Burnham Lambert on Wall Street declared bankruptcy and crumbled under the weight of a volatile junk bond market after he was barred from the securities sector.

Joseph Nacchio

At a time when he was aware of the serious issues the firm was facing. Joseph Nacchio, the CEO of Qwest Communications, gained $50 million by selling off all of his stock at a premium. At the same time, he provided stockholders with optimistic financial estimates. In 2007, he was found guilty.

Yoshiaki Murakami

Yoshiaki Murakami made $25.5 million in 2006 by taking advantage of significant inside information about Livedoor, a company that offered financial services and sought to acquire 5% of Nippon Broadcasting. After learning this, his fund bought two million shares.

Foster Winans

Winans is a former Wall Street Journal contributor who in the early 1980s wrote the significant “Heard on the Street” column. He was able to influence markets with his words, therefore he gave a stock broker access to insider knowledge from his reporting so that the broker could trade profitably on his behalf. The 1985 conviction of the writer is still a required reading in journalistic ethics classes all around the nation.

Difference Between Legal and Illegal Insider Trading

Information is considered to be material if it has the potential to significantly affect an investor’s choice to purchase or sell a security. Information that is legally prohibited from being made public is referred to as nonpublic information.

The legality question arose as a result of the SEC’s efforts to protect a fair marketplace. When compared to other investors who do not have access to the same information, the person with insider knowledge would have an unfair advantage and might be able to make larger, unjust gains.

Giving others information about important nonpublic information is considered illegal insider trading. When they purchase or sell shares while legally disclosing their transactions, the company’s directors are engaging in lawful insider trading. Standards established by the Securities and Exchange Commission protect investments from the effects of insider trading. No matter how the relevant nonpublic information was obtained or if the recipient is a company employee, neither matter matters.

Assume, for instance, that someone discusses nonpublic material information with a friend after learning about it from a family member. All three parties involved may face legal action if the friend takes advantage of this insider information to make money in the stock market.

Consequences of Insider Trading

The consequences of insider trading can range from civil fines to criminal penalties, depending on the severity of the violation. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may put sanctions on you, including a permanent prohibition from serving as an officer or director again. If you are an officer or director of a company and purchase or sell shares of your firm’s stock while in possession of substantial, nonpublic information. Additionally, you risk a $5 million penalty.

You may also be charged with insider trading if you trade based on nonpublic knowledge while not being an officer or director of a public corporation. According to federal law, you may face a $5 million fine and 20 years in jail if proven guilty.

There are also consequences for companies who engage in insider trading, including refusing to deal with any member of a company’s management or board of directors when an officer or director of a public corporation trades on their own account while in possession of material nonpublic information, they are breaking the law if they know or have reason to think that person has committed a crime. 

Frequently Ask Questions

What is considered insider trading?

Insider trading is when someone with privileged information about a company buys or sells a security, either for themselves or on behalf of another person, and uses that information to make a profit.

What are examples of insider information?

The most common examples of insider information are company announcements such as acquisitions, new product launches, or divestitures.

Disclaimer: This article and the information contained herein are not intended to be a source of legal advice. We don’t promote any illegal activities such as insider trading or any other crime.

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