The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged a former executive with insider trading in advance of eBay’s acquisition of the e-commerce company where he worked by tipping friends and relatives with confidential information about the pending deal so they could attain more than $300,000 in illegal profits.
In a case that the SEC unraveled in part due to extensive cooperation by some of the tippees, the SEC also charged five traders and entered into a non-prosecution agreement with a trader who provided extraordinary cooperation in the investigation.
It’s the agency’s first non-prosecution agreement with an individual. The SEC’s investigation is continuing into trading by other individuals.
The SEC alleges that Christopher Saridakis violated a duty of trust as CEO of the marketing solutions division of GSI Commerce by providing two family members and two friends with nonpublic information about the pending acquisition and encouraging them to trade on it. To settle the SEC’s charges, Saridakis agreed to an officer-and-director bar and must pay $664,822, which includes a penalty equal to twice the amount of his tippees’ profits. In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania today announced criminal charges against Saridakis, who lives in Delaware.
The five traders and the individual who entered into a non-prosecution agreement will pay a combined total of more than $490,000 in their settlements, which range from disgorgement-only or reduced penalties for cooperators to penalties of two or three times the trading profits for other traders.
“Although Saridakis’ tips spun a web of illegal trading, some of the downstream tippees substantially assisted in our investigation while others hindered it,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.
“The reduction in penalties for those tippees who assisted us, together with the non-prosecution agreement for one of the traders, demonstrate the benefits of cooperating with our investigations. The increased penalties for others highlight the risks of impeding our work.”
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