In any given year, there are more than 200,000 insider transactions filed with the SEC, though just a fraction of these (usually less than 10) are actually deemed to be “illegal.” This is an important fact to bring up, because lately, it seems like everyone’s getting it wrong.
Earlier today, Rengan Rajaratnam was charged with committing illegal insider trading. Rengan was Raj Rajaratnam’s brother, who was also convicted of a similar crime in October 2011. Here’s what that looked like, but it wasn’t pretty:
And here’s the full press release from today (emphasis added):
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., March 21, 2013 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Rajarengan “Rengan” Rajaratnam for his role in the massive insider trading scheme spearheaded by his older brother Raj Rajaratnam and hedge fund advisory firm Galleon Management.
The SEC alleges that from 2006 to 2008, Rengan Rajaratnam repeatedly received inside information from his brother and reaped more than $3 million in illicit gains for himself and hedge funds that he managed at Galleon and Sedna Capital Management, a hedge fund advisory firm that he co-founded. In addition to illegally trading on inside tips, Rengan Rajaratnam was an active participant in his brother’s scheme to cultivate highly placed sources and extract confidential information for an unfair advantage over other traders.
“Our complaint against Rengan Rajaratnam tells a sad tale of a man who followed his brother down an illegal path of greed to its inevitable conclusion,” said George S. Canellos, Acting Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.
Sanjay Wadhwa, Senior Associate Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office, added, “Rengan Rajaratnam profited handsomely from his brother’s insider trading activities, and he may have believed he wouldn’t have to pay a price for his involvement. But now he is learning the true cost of his participation in the most expansive insider trading scheme ever perpetrated.”
In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York today announced criminal charges against Rengan Rajaratnam.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Rengan Rajaratnam repeatedly received valuable insider tips from his brother that he used for illegal trading in the securities of Polycom, Hilton Hotels, Clearwire Corporation, Akamai Technologies, and AMD. For example, in July 2007, he made substantial profits trading Hilton stock in his personal account based on a timely insider trading tip from Raj Rajaratnam that Hilton was about to be taken private. Rengan Rajaratnam quickly loaded up on Hilton stock, and the price of Hilton shares jumped more than 25 percent after the news became public. Rengan Rajaratnam cashed in his recently acquired position for an illicit profit of more than $675,000.
According to the SEC’s complaint, after Raj Rajaratnam tipped him about an upcoming transaction involving Clearwire Corporation in March 2008, Rengan Rajaratnam complained to his brother that certain nonpublic information they had used to begin accumulating a position in Clearwire stock was about to be reported by the media before they could establish a larger position. Rengan Rajaratnam nevertheless profited by more than $100,000 in his personal brokerage account and more than $230,000 for Galleon hedge funds based on trades in Clearwire securities.
The SEC’s complaint charges Rengan Rajaratnam with violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5. The complaint seeks a final judgment permanently enjoining Rajaratnam from future violations of these provisions of the federal securities laws, ordering him to disgorge his ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, and ordering him to pay financial penalties.
The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by John Henderson and Joseph Sansone — members of the SEC’s Market Abuse Unit in New York — and Matthew Watkins, Diego Brucculeri, and James D’Avino of the New York Regional Office. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The SEC has now charged 33 defendants in its Galleon-related enforcement actions, which have exposed widespread and repeated insider trading at numerous hedge funds and by other traders, investment professionals, and corporate insiders located throughout the country. The insider trading occurred in the securities of more than 15 companies for illicit gains totaling more than $96 million.
The SEC’s formal complaint is also quite riveting, which can be seen in its entirety here.