These 10 biggest insider trading scandals ever to rock companies on Wall Street are among the most responsible culprits for lack of public trust in the stock markets. Despite being the main facilitator in creating the strongest economy the world has ever seen, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is today one of the most hated institutions in America.
Considering that the US Congress is also competing, and very successfully we might add, for that title, it is a very impressive (or rather dubious) accomplishment. Most of the hate Wall Street and its brethren in other financial institutions receive today is due to the 2008 financial collapse and subsequent crisis. But part of it, and often the most despised part, is insider trading.
These are trades executed by people that use privileged information, accessible only within company’s inner circles, to gain fortunes, often at the expense of small shareholders. This is the most frowned-upon action among the regulatory bodies that oversee Wall Street, and yet is so easily committed. All it takes is a careless (or well-timed) whisper and information is ready to be acted upon, for illicit gain. While you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone convicted for the 2008 meltdown, there are plenty of people doing time for insider trading, as the SEC usually goes full monty when these cases are discovered. All 10 of the biggest insider trading scandals ever to rock companies ended with the people responsible serving prison sentences.
Sometimes the punishment doesn’t appear to fit the crime, like in the case of Australian investor and stockbroker Rene Rivkin. In 2001, Mr. Rivkin received insider information about the merger of Qantas and Impulse Airlines. He immediately purchased 50,000 shares of Qantas, hoping to make a killing once the merger went public. Unfortunately for him, his actions were discovered and he was sentenced to prison in 2003. To add insult to injury, the shares he bought only netted him $2,660. The combined shame of conviction over such a bad deal drove him to suicide (not that we feel sorry for him).
The insider trading scandals on our list were far more profitable for their perpetrators, earning them millions, like one of the most recent ones involving former Dean Foods Co (NYSE:DF) Chairman Thomas Davis. In the process, they rocked the companies involved to such a degree that some of them never recovered. On the following pages you will find the biggest insider trading scandals both in terms of the money involved and the publicity that they received.