The partner of two stock brokers involved implicated in insider trading at International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) has been charged for crimes related to the same instance of illicit trading. The Australian national, Trent Martin, was arrested on December 22 in Hong Kong.
At the end of November the two stock brokers involved in the case were charged in a New York Court. According to details made public by the prosecution, Martin received information from a friend of his, who worked as a lawyer for IBM, about the acquisition.
Martin passed that information along to his roommate Thomas Conradt. Conradt worked at the time at a Connecticut base brokerage firm called Euro Pacific Capital, and passed on that information to some of his colleagues. The most notable of these was David Weishaus.
Conradt and Weishaus were the two brokers charged with insider trading offenses at the end of November. Much of the public information about the case is based on instant messages sent between the two men. Their messages made obvious reference to Trent Martin, and the crime that they are accused of. The resultant gains from the deal were in excess of one million dollars according to the prosecution.
The case centers around the purchase of SPSS Inc. by International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) in 2009. The three men are defending against charges that they obtained illicit information about the coming acquisition and invested heavily in SPSS Inc. In the wake of the trade the company’s shares rose by 41%.
It has been a bust year for the Securities and Exchange commission, and it seems that right now there are more big insider trading cases than an other single time. One of the most prominent other cases involves Steven Cohen’s firm SAC Capital. The details of the case are interesting, and can be found here.
An executive working for Cohen is currently being held by the FBI, as they try to turn him on his former boss. Steven Cohen doesn’t yet look likely to go down for insider trading, but that would be one of the biggest cases in the history of Wall Street, were it to come about.
Earlier in November, employees from three separate healthcare related companies were charged with insider trading. The firms involved were Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG), Sanofi SA, (NYSE:SNY) and Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK). The group were charged with information sharing and investment in anticipation of major company announcements, such as the results of clinical trials and mergers.
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) is not the first firm to be the center of an insider trading scandal and it certainly will not be the last. If, however, the SEC continues to do what appears to be a solid job of charging at least some of the offenders, the slew of cases might slow.
There is of course the other possibility is that insider trading has become much more widespread. The SEC may just be picking up the same portion of an increasing pool of crimes. It’s food for thought.