Ivan Boesky Scandal: Jailed For Insider Trading In The 1980s

The Ivan Boesky insider trading scandal of the mid-1980s was a major event in the history of Wall Street. It was a story about big money and big ideas, about how greed can make you rich and how it can destroy you.

The scandal started with an accusation by a small-time stockbroker named Michael Milken that Ivan Boesky had tipped him off about impending mergers. Milken charged that Boesky had been buying shares in companies whose boards were considering deals with his own investment firm. The stocks went up and down on rumors, but eventually, they rose so much that they were worth millions of dollars each.

At first, Milken and his attorney, Marty Lipton, thought they would settle out of court for $3 million. But after months of negotiations, they reached an agreement with Boesky’s lawyers: He would pay them $1 million if he didn’t sue them or their clients over the charges against him; he would pay them another $1 million if he did sue, and he would pay them $2 million more if he won his case at trial.

How Did Ivan Boesky Make His Money And How Did They Catch Him?

Ivan Boesky

Ivan Boesky was arrested in 1987 for insider trading. He was the CEO of the brokerage firm Capital Group and one of Wall Street’s most powerful traders.

Boesky was convicted in 1989 and sentenced to 30 months in prison. He was released after serving 13 months, but he was banned from trading stocks on Wall Street for five years.

He went on to become chairman and CEO of Banker’s Trust Company from 1985 to 1990. Today, he is worth $50 million according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Ivan Boesky was a Wall Street trader who became famous for his insider trading. He was convicted of insider trading charges and sentenced to 3 years in prison. After he was released from prison, he became a hedge fund manager. In 1995, he was worth $1 billion.

Boesky was born in New York City and grew up in Yonkers, New York. He attended high school at the Bronx High School of Science, where he played on the school’s basketball team until his junior year. He then enrolled at Princeton University where he majored in electrical engineering and played on the school’s basketball team until his senior year. From there, he moved on to Harvard Law School where he earned an LLM degree.

Boesky worked as an attorney after graduating from Harvard Law School and later joined one of Wall Street’s biggest firms as an associate partner before leaving to start his own investment firm called Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM). When LTCM collapsed in 1998 due to bad bets on Russian bonds, it had its assets seized by federal regulators and its managers arrested for alleged fraud.

Ivan Boesky is probably the most famous Wall Street insider to be convicted in the 1980s. He was originally charged with insider trading but he eventually pleaded guilty to a single count of selling information about public companies.

He admitted that he received $35 million in cash and stock from Michael Milken, who was head of his investment banking firm Drexel Burnham Lambert at the time. Boesky purchased shares in companies that were going public and sold them back to the company before they were offered for sale on the market. This allowed him to make a profit without actually buying an underlying share.

The prosecution claimed that Boesky’s actions led to losses for investors of more than $100 million. However, Boesky’s sentencing judge called his crimes “theoretically possible” but not likely as he had acted alone and there were no other people involved in his scheme.

Ivan Boesky is a stock market trader and financier who was a central figure in the scandal that rocked the 1980s, known as “the crash of ’87.” He has been in prison since 1989 for insider trading, but he has just been released from prison after having served only half of his sentence.

Ivan Boesky was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 6, 1935. Ivan’s father was an immigrant from Russia and his mother was an American. He grew up in New York City and attended high school there.

At age 16, Ivan began working at a stock brokerage firm on Wall Street after his graduation from high school. In 1961, Ivan married Dana Shoup; they have two children together.

In 1962, Ivan joined Merrill Lynch & Company as a stock broker trainee. After three years at Merrill Lynch & Company, he became a partner in the firm’s investment banking division. During this time period (1960-1965), Ivan worked closely with analyst Henry Kaufman (who later became famous as a hedge fund manager). Together they published “The End Of Wall Street,” which described how investors could make money by buying stocks that were about to come under pressure due to increased competition or falling share prices.

A Few Of The Ivan Boesky Scandal’s Players

Dennis Levine

American Wall Street arbitrageur Dennis Levine was the initial high-profile suspect in the Ivan Boesky insider trading scandal. In 1986, he was found guilty of insider trading and given a two-year prison term, a fine of $362,000, and had his securities licenses revoked.

Martin Siegel 

Martin Siegel was a banker and financial advisor who, along with Ivan Boesky, was accused of engaging in insider trading. Boesky claimed that Siegel gave him confidential information, which Boesky used to make millions.

Richard Wigton

Trader Richard Wigton and his partner Ivan Boesky were accused of insider trading. When it was discovered that Wigton had received inside information from Boesky about a potential takeover of the USX Corporation, he became embroiled in the scandal.

David Brown

Kidder Peabody & Co. executive David Brown was a suspect in the 1986 Ivan Boesky scandal. It was claimed that Brown had given Boesky access to proprietary information that he had used to make lucrative trades.

How Did They Catch Ivan Boesky?

In August 1982, Ivan Boesky was arrested for insider trading

In August 1982, Ivan Boesky was arrested for insider trading.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in New York had been investigating him for five months, and by the fall of 1982 had enough evidence to make an arrest. The government alleged that Boesky had taken part in a “buddy system” where he shared non-public information with Michael Milken and other executives at Drexel Burnham Lambert. This information was used to trade on advanced knowledge of future earnings, which was illegal under U.S. securities law at the time.

Boesky pleaded guilty and received a six-month jail sentence and a $1 million fine in 1983 after being convicted by a jury of six counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He served three months in federal prison before being released on November 10, 1983, due to good behavior; he then entered into a three-year probationary period during which time he had to wear an electronic monitoring device that could be placed upon his ankle by authorities if necessary.

Boesky’s trial was complicated by the fact that he was also a Wall Street trader who had been prosecuted for insider trading on several occasions in the 1980s, with no convictions.

The government’s case against Boesky focused on two specific trades that occurred between 1986 and 1988. In 1986, he sold over $2 billion worth of stock when he knew that the company’s earnings report would be coming out soon. He was paid $1 million for this sale, which netted him a profit of $100 million over what he could have realized if he had waited until after the report came out.

In 1988, Boesky sold another large block of stock when he knew that the same earnings report would be coming out soon again — and this time got paid an additional $700,000 for his efforts. His total profits from these deals amounted to about $3 billion over five years’ time — more than four times his original investment!

“The government’s case against Ivan Boesky was built on the testimony of several of his friends and associates, including Michael Milken. The government’s case against Boesky was based on insider trading charges related to his position as a director of Drexel Burnham Lambert and Michael Milken’s position as a director of Drexel.

In the end, however, the evidence against Boesky was flimsy at best. None of the people who testified against him were able to say they had been contacted by him about the information they had obtained in their personal dealings with him.”

The government’s case against Ivan Boesky was based on information from a few sources. One was James C. Smith, who knew about the insider trading scheme and tipped off federal authorities after Boesky threatened him for not keeping silent about the scheme. Another was Michael R. Milken, who held a series of meetings with federal prosecutors in the late 1980s.

In addition to these two sources, one of the prosecutors involved in the case — John Smalkin — had also worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan under Boesky’s former boss, Rudolph Giuliani. As a result, when he later became mayor of New York City and then attorney general of New York State, Giuliani had extensive knowledge of what had happened under his watch as a prosecutor prior to 1986 when he left office to run for governor.

Where Is Ivan Boesky Today And How Much Is He Worth?

Ivan Boesky is 85 now.

Shortly after being released from prison, he spent his time involved in projects that aimed to help the homeless. He has been primarily out of the spotlight. He currently lives in La Jolla, California quietly. The $23 million from his divorce settlement in 1991 certainly helps.

Throughout the 80s, Boesky was a well-known arbitrage specialist lovingly called Ivan the Terrible after the Viking. His fortune far exceeded $200 million according to some estimates, mainly due to betting on mergers and takeovers he was aware of.

Boesky has since returned to Wall Street where he now works as an advisor for hedge funds, private equity firms, and venture capital firms. He has also returned to writing books about financial markets, including several on insider trading. He is currently worth around $150 million according to Forbes magazine, making him one of America’s richest people.

The Lucrative 80s: Wall Street’s Explosive Investing

Wall Street's Ivan Boesky in New York City, October 1984
Wall Street’s Ivan Boesky in New York City, October 1984.

The investment market was fast, high risk, and high reward in the 80s. Many capitalized on this, fueled by lacking regulation.

In the early 1980s, Boesky was making $2 million a year. He bought and sold stocks with his assistant, Michael Milken. They had almost unlimited access to information about companies that they could use to make money off of their own trades. When other investors got nervous about possible negative developments in companies’ earnings reports, Boesky and Milken would simply sell their shares before those reports came out. The pair made millions by doing this trick over and over again until they owned large portions of many well-known companies.

Boesky’s actions led directly to the SEC cracking down on insider trading after Congress passed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act of 1981 (EGTRRA). The law banned insider trading by certain industries that were deemed “too big to fail.” Among them were banks, brokerages, securities dealers, insurance companies, and any company whose stock was publicly traded on an exchange

The 1980s were a time of great profitability for US stockbrokers and financiers.

The reason was the deregulation of Wall Street banks and brokerages, which led to a huge increase in the number of financial institutions offering their services.

Ivan Boesky, who was nicknamed “the Bear” because he fought against any regulation on Wall Street, was one of the most famous people who benefited from the deregulation. He made an incredible profit by spreading false rumours about IBM’s stock price, which resulted in its collapse in early March of 1982.

Ivan Boesky was eventually convicted of insider trading and served time in prison for his crimes.

Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken, along with other financiers, broke the law by offering and selling stocks that they knew had been illegally overvalued. This was known as insider trading, and it was an issue in the 1980s. They were both convicted of insider trading.

In the aftermath of this scandal, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which increased penalties for insider trading and required public companies to disclose information about their financial dealings in detail.

The 1980s were indeed a very good time for stockbrokers and financiers because of their ability to make money off of stocks that were overvalued by investors.

The Reagan Administration’s policies encouraged people like Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken to break the law by offering and selling stocks that they knew had been illegally overvalued.

Seen in a different light, the 1980s were a decade of greed, corruption, and excess.

In the 1980s, a group of wealthy financiers and stockbrokers became known as “white-collar criminals.”

They were accused of manipulating stock prices and trading on inside information.

The FBI investigated some of these cases, but they never brought any criminal charges against the majority of them.

Instead, they spent tens of millions of dollars on legal fees to defend themselves in court.

The SEC also took steps to stop white-collar criminals from taking advantage of unsuspecting investors by instituting stronger insider trading laws and requiring companies to disclose more information about their share prices.

How he built his fortune

He began his work as a stock analyst on Wall Street in 1966, the same year he began his career in the area. It was in 1975 that he established his arbitrage firm, and by the time the 1980s rolled around, he was reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Boesky sought smaller businesses than larger ones could potentially acquire. Then, he would invest in those companies with the anticipation that an announcement regarding a takeover would be made shortly, and he would sell his shares for a profit when the takeover was announced.

The downfall of Ivan Boesky

Due to insider trading, Ivan Boesky was brought down from his place as one of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States. On November 14, 1986, he was charged with stock manipulation based on inside information. He agreed to pay a $100 million fine and serve time in prison, in addition to being banned from trading stocks professionally for life.

Boesky’s cooperation with the SEC helped lead to Drexel Burnham Lambert and its highest-profile executive Michael Milken being charged with securities fraud. To prevent future incidents of insider trading, Congress passed the Insider Trading Act of 1988. The act increased penalties for insider trading and allowed individuals to sue for damages caused by insider trading violations. 

The Ivan Boesky scandal was a major lesson in the importance of ethical trading practices and the consequences that can come with breaking them. Although he could never return to his past success and wealth, his story warns others not to engage in illegal insider trading activities.

Changes brought about after the fraud.

The Ivan Boesky scandal was a major event in the 1980s and sparked a wave of changes that continue to this day. After it was discovered that Ivan Boesky had been guilty of insider trading, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) passed the Insider Trading Sanctions Act of 1984. This act put more stringent regulations on insider trading, increased the penalties for violation, and allowed the SEC to go after more than just the individuals involved.

The act put several new requirements on businesses, such as mandating independent external audits, prohibiting insider trading during pension fund trades, and providing stronger protection for whistleblowers.

The Ivan Boesky scandal also brought about changes in the banking industry. Following the scandal, banking institutions tightened their regulations on insider trading and increased their compliance measures. As a result, today, banks and other financial institutions are much better at identifying and preventing potential insider trading cases.

In addition, the events surrounding the Ivan Boesky scandal helped create a culture of greater accountability for corporate officials and executives. Many companies have put in place stronger oversight measures to ensure that their corporate executives are not engaging in illegal activities such as insider trading.

The Ivan Boesky scandal showed how serious the consequences could be when someone engages in unethical business practices. It is a cautionary tale that continues to shape corporate governance and the financial industry today.


What Laws Did Ivan Boesky Break?

Boesky violated the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) rules that prohibited trading securities based on insider information. He was also charged with filing a false statement with the SEC, as he had knowingly lied about his involvement in the trading activities. Ivan Boesky was given a sentence of three years in prison and a fine of one hundred million dollars as retribution for his illegal insider trading operations.

What was the Ivan Boesky scandal?

The Ivan Boesky scandal was a major financial scandal that took place in the 1980s. Boesky, a Wall Street insider trader, was arrested and convicted of illegally profiting from insider trading. 

How was Ivan Boesky involved in insider trading?

Ivan Boesky was a Wall Street insider trader who illegally profited from trading on information he had obtained from company insiders. He used this information to make investments and generate significant profits. 

What was the outcome of the Ivan Boesky scandal?

Ivan Boesky was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $100 million for his involvement in insider trading. He was also barred from ever working in the securities industry again. 

How did the Ivan Boesky scandal affect the stock market?

The Ivan Boesky scandal had a significant impact on the stock market. It caused a great deal of uncertainty and distrust, and many investors were reluctant to invest in stocks. Additionally, the scandal resulted in a series of laws and regulations to prevent insider trading.

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