Big Lots Chief Is Latest Major Player Facing SEC Investigation

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Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG) CEO Steven Fishman is the latest in a line of several major players being probed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Today, the question many are asking is whether there will be more major Wall Street players facing the SEC.

Big Lots Chief Is Latest Major Player Facing SEC Investigation

The agency is investigating Fishman’s $10 million sale of company stock, which happened right before Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG) announced major corporate news that dropped the price of its stock in March. The Wall Street Journal cites an anonymous source with information about the SEC investigation.

On Tuesday a spokesperson for the discount retail chain said Fishman decided to retire so that he could spend more time with his family. Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG) said it’s a coincidence that his departure came on the same day that an SEC investigation into one of his trades earlier this year was announced. The chain also said the SEC had not contacted them in regards to the investigation, prior to Fishman announcing his plans to retire.

Fishman apparently sold off $10.3 million of his company stock in March, just before the company’s first quarter ended. Then, toward the end of April, Big Lots told investors that sales were slumping, which dropped shares of the stock almost 25 percent in just one day. If Fishman had not sold his stock until after that news had announced, he would have pocketed a mere $2.4 million instead of the $10.3 million he received for selling early. There’s now a lawsuit filed by shareholders in Ohio, who said they were misled about the company’s finances.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal published an extensive analysis of major trades made by corporate executives that ended up being largely in their favor and that happened not long before bad news about the company hit. The Journal looked at sales by more than 20,000 executives and discovered that more than 1,000 of them traded their own company’s stock in the week before their company announced negative news.

ValueWalk has also extensively covered investigations in which other major Wall Street players are being probed. As we reported last week, SAC Capital is facing some heat right now as the SEC prepares to file a civil fraud case against it in connection with an ongoing case involving insider trading. That suit is connected with the arrest of former SAC trader Mathew Martoma, who has been accused of advising SAC’s Steve Cohen to trade the hedge fund’s shares of a pharmaceutical company’s stock shortly before bad news about a drug trial was announced.

On Tuesday ValueWalk also reported that the SEC is considering delisting all of the Chinese companies involved in a fraud investigation if no agreement is reached. This came after the SEC filed a formal administrative complaint against the Chinese affiliates of five major accounting firms.

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