September 23, 2018

Idiots Accused of Insider Trading Used Sketchy Post-It Method, Creative Digestion

Insider trading accusations are often boring, routine and totally predictable. But this reads like something out of a poorly-written detective novel, for real:

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a stockbroker and a managing clerk at a law firm with insider trading around more than a dozen mergers or other corporate transactions for illicit profits of $5.6 million during a four-year period.

The SEC alleges that Vladimir Eydelman and Steven Metro were linked through a mutual friend who acted as a middleman in the illegal trading scheme.  Metro, who works at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York, obtained material nonpublic information about corporate clients involved in pending deals by accessing confidential documents in the law firm’s computer system.  Metro typically tipped the middleman during in-person meetings at a New York City coffee shop, and the middleman later met Eydelman, who was his stockbroker, near the clock and information booth in Grand Central Terminal.  The middleman tipped Eydelman, who was a registered representative at Oppenheimer and is now at Morgan Stanley, by showing him a post-it note or napkin with the relevant ticker symbol.  After the middleman chewed up and sometimes even ate the note or napkin, Eydelman went on to use the illicit tip to illegally trade on his own behalf as well as for family members, the middleman, and other customers.  The middleman allocated a portion of his profits for eventual payment back to Metro in exchange for the inside information.  Metro also personally traded in advance of at least two deals.

Wait a second… the middleman ATE the evidence? Is Post-it note glue even safe to digest, bro?

This is really serious stuff, you guys, the SEC has totes had it with "trusted professionals" engaging in shady ass behavior like this.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey today announced criminal charges against Metro, who lives in Katonah, N.Y., and Eydelman, who lives in Colts Neck, N.J.  

“Law firms are sanctuaries for the confidential treatment of client information, and this scheme victimized not only a law firm but also its corporate clients and ultimately the investors in those companies,” said Daniel M. Hawke, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit.  “We are continuing to combat serial insider trading schemes, particularly by law firm employees and other professionals who are entrusted with extremely sensitive market-moving information.”

The whole thing started, as these things do, innocently enough. Apparently, back in early 2009, Metro and "the middleman" were hanging with some pals downing a few brews. At some point, Metro and "the Mids" split off to have a cozy chat about stocks and Mids was bitching that he held some Sirius XM stock that he was worried about as bankruptcy was sort of looming over Sirius then. Metro, helpful dude that he is, consoled the Mids by letting him know Liberty Media Corp was going to invest more than $500 mil in Sirius, and he knew this because he read it at the law firm where he worked. Mids couldn't keep his mouth shut so he subsequently rang up Eydelman and told him to buy more Sirius, serious. Eydelman was a little skeptical but the Mids was like "no, bro, it's cool, this guy I know at a law firm told me not to worry."

The Mids put aside a $7000 "thanks bro" gift for Metro in return for the insider info but instead of taking it, Metro said the Mids should leave it in his own account and they should totally do some more insider trading later with it because why not?

Well, being sneaky and eating the evidence obviously didn't work because here we are. When will you people learn?!

 

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Madoff Feeders Getting Some Unwanted Attention

The SEC, feeling confident these days, has filed a complaint against Cohmad Securities Corporation and its Chairman, Chief Operating Officer, and one of the brokers, saying they “actively marketed Madoff investments while ‘knowingly or recklessly disregarding facts indicating that Madoff was operating a fraud.'”
Call us Captain Obv but that sounds like they were either dumb or in on the scam. Either way, they can’t be too psyched about it.
An additional complaint has been filed by the SEC against Stanley Chais, an investment adviser who put all of the assets he oversaw into casa de Madoff.
Irving Picard, who might have the most thankless job in America, also sued both Cohmad and Chais, because, you know, a few people want their money back. The trustee’s complaint against Cohmad spells it out:

The trustee’s lawsuit asserted that fees paid to Cohmad by Mr. Madoff were based on records showing the actual cash status of customer accounts — the amounts invested and withdrawn — without including the fictional profits shown in the statements provided to customers. When a customer’s withdrawals exceeded the cash invested, Cohmad’s employees no longer earned fees from that account — even though the customer’s statements still showed a substantial balance, according to the lawsuit.

This arrangement indicated that Cohmad and its representatives knew about the Ponzi scheme and knew that the profits investors were allegedly earning were bogus, according to the trustee’s complaint.

Good luck explaining that.

Brokerage Firm and 4 Others Sued in Madoff Case
[New York Times]

SEC Rule Would Crack Down on Celebrity Board Members

oj-simpson-mugshot.jpgNow that the SEC has got this Ponzi thing under control, it can focus on more important matters like getting famous people off companies’ board of directors because, you know, they don’t really know shit about the companies they serve.
Perfect example: Tommy Franks, former commander of forces in Iraq, who resigned his seat on Bank of America’s board last week, was on the audit committee. The AUDIT COMMITTEE.
That’s actually not even the best example. According to Bloomberg, everyone’s favorite acquitted killer, O.J. Simpson was on the audit committee of Infinity Broadcasting Corporation before he was charged with murder in 1994. O.J. Simpson. Audit committee. Yes.
We could go on to tell you about Lance Armstrong missing 11 board meetings but still getting paid over $70,000 by Morgans Hotel Group or Gerald Ford sitting on the Board of Traveler’s Insurance (owned by Citi) until he was 85 years old but you get the picture.
This is your SEC, citizens of America, getting their shit together since 1934.

Armstrong, ‘Celebrity’ Directors Targeted in SEC Rule
[Bloomberg]