Insider trading is often discussed, but it is something that many do not fully understand, or there is a concept of it but no true comprehension of what it is and how it can occur. To learn more about insider trading, keep reading.
What is insider trading?
Insider trading is an illegal, prohibited activity when someone makes an investment trade based on non-public “material” information. The advantages of insider trading are potential profit for participants. Disadvantages of insider trading are a huge risk – conflict with the law, the possibility of being convicted.
Whenever a publicly-traded company has a stock sold by a person who may have any material information that concerns a particular stock that has not been released to the public, and it is then sold or bought, that is what insider trading is. This type of trading may be legal or illegal; however, it all depends on whenever the insider has made the trade. It will be considered illegal whenever a stock is traded based on information that has not been released to the public or is considered non-public.
What is Insider trading Material Information?
Any information that could impact an investor’s decision to purchase or sell security will be considered material information. Any non-public information will be information that has not been legally released to the public about material information on security.
A better understanding of what Insider trading is:
The SEC or United States Securities and Exchange Commission has defined insider trading to be seen as selling or purchasing a security, fiduciary duties are breached, or another type of trust or confidence relationship, based on non-public material information about said security.
The overall question about insider trading’s legality comes from the SEC attempting to keep the marketplace fair. Someone who happens to have access to non-public information will be seen as having an unfair advantage over any other investor who would not have similar access, and that investors may end up making a much larger profit than any other fellow investors.
Whenever an investor begins to tip off other investors with any non-public information, they may be seen as illegal insider trading. However, when a company director starts to sell or purchase shares, but this information has been disclosed about the transactions legally, it will be seen as legal insider trading. However, the SEC has a specific set of rules to help protect any investment from any effects that may come from insider trading.
Pros and cons of insider trading
The advantage of insider trading is the enormous financial gains for participants. The disadvantage is the possibility of harmful public exposure, heavy financial penalties, and a prison sentence.
There are no good things in insider trading – it is forbidden, not legal. Sometimes it is hard to prove illegal insider trading. The advantage of insider trading is profit (only benefits of insider trading), but we will discuss more disadvantages here.
Insider trading disadvantages are:
- Bad public reputation
- Heavy financial penalties
- Prison sentence
Insider trading examples
1. Martha Stewart insider trading case
In 2004, Martha steward, a famous television star and personnel, was convicted and charged with insider trading. It was reported that she received insider information about the ImClone systems company. She received that the FDA had declined to review one of their developed drugs, which would incur a huge loss in the future. In regards to that information, Martha sold a certain percentage of his shares to avoid the loss. Martha also lied that she had prior plans for selling the shares. This was later found to be a lie. She was convicted of two crimes. She was guilty of both insider trading and lying. The star was then sentenced to five years in prison.
Let us start from the beginning. It is not just a director of a company that could be charged with insider trading. A huge and public case of insider trading happened in 2003 when Martha Stewart, a trendy household name, has been charged with securities fraud, obstruction of proceedings, and insider trading from ImClone’s case during 2001 the SEC.
Martha Stewart sold around 4 thousand shares that she owned in ImClone Systems, a biopharmaceutical company. Stewart had received information from a Merrill Lynch broker, Peter Bacanovic. Bacanovic had received a tip after the CEO of ImClone Systems, Samuel Waksal, had sold all his shares for that company. This had happened when ImClone had been waiting to be approved for a new cancer treatment called Erbitux by the FDA.
However, after the stocks had been sold, Erbitux was rejected for approval by the FDA, which had caused the shares to drop over 15% in a single day. Due to Martha Stewart selling these shares, it kept a loss of over $45,600 from happening. Yet, because this sale had been made using information received from Bacanovic, who had learned this information from Waksal when the shares of ImClone were sold, it had been considered non-public information.
Martha Stewart went to trial in 2004 and was charged with conspiracy crimes, providing the federal investigators with false statements, and obstruction of justice, which caused Stewart to spend only 5 months within a federal prison.
2. Marc Cuban insider trading case
Mark Cuban, a famous entrepreneur and owner of Dallas mavericks was accused and charged with insider trading from the mama.com stock. It was reported that Cuban got confidential information from the CEO of Mamma.com stock of a predicted loss. He then sold his shares early before the information was released to the public. This was a selfish act that made him avoided a loss of an estimated 750 thousand dollars. This brought conflict between Cuba, the exchange commission, and securities, who reported a case against him in 2004.
3. Chris Collins insider trading case
Chris Collins, a major shareholder of the innate immunotherapeutic biotechnology company, was accused and charged with inside trading in August 2018. It was reported that Chris leaked internal information to his father in law. The information was about the negative test trial of sclerosis drugs that the company made. The drugs were meant to cure his son. Before releasing this information to the public, the two men sold their shares to avoid huge potential loss.
4. Phil Mickelson insider trading case
Phil Mickelson, a professional golfer, was charged with insider trading in May 2016. It was reported that Phil made a stock trade with the dean’s food daily company after he received insider tips making huge profits. However, there was no enough evidence against his accusations. He was then ordered a fine for giving up a certain percentage of his trading interest and profit. This insider trading case is interesting because the whole scandal is based on inside information that he had received second-hand.
5. George Soros insider trading case (2002) . In 2002, George was charged with insider trading and was convicted in the Paris court, leaving him a fine of more than two million dollars. It was reported that George Soros acquired confidential information about a corporate raid In Societe Generate bank. He then sold his shares to avoid loss before the release of that information to the public. George Soros fails To clear his name of insider trading in France.
6. Jeff Skilling insider trading case
Jeff Skilling is a former CEO of the great Enron company. It was reported that Jeff illegally sold his huge shares from the company a few months after he resigned as the CEO of that company in August 2001. This action left the company in bankruptcy. He then lied to the investors about the reasons behind huge financial losses and bankruptcy in the company. He was charged and convicted in court for lies and insider trading.
7. Joseph Nacchio insider trading case
In 2005, the government accused and convicted Joseph Nacchio, the former chief of Q west telecom company, for insider trading. Why? It was reported that he gave false information to wall street about the growth of this company. He took advantage of the company’s low moments and challenges and dumped his stocks in the market, making a huge profit. This left the company at a huge loss of more than three billion dollars. In April 2007, Joseph was sentenced to six months in prison.
8. Billy Walters insider trading case
Billy Walters, a famous US gambler, has been charged with several insider trading cases that have selfishly earned him huge profits. Billy Walters acquired insider information from Thomas Davis, the former chairman of the dean food company. He later bought stocks from this company to grab the opportunity of earning a huge profit. The insider trader was then convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.
9. Ras Rajaratnam insider trading case
Ras is a famous businessman and founder of the galleon group of investors. He was accused and charged with insider trading, which led to the closure of his firm. It was reported that raj collaborated with castle hedge fund managers to acquire insider information about the firm. He later made the stock market in that firm, which made him a huge profit. Raj was also involved in other scandalous activities with firms like Google, Goldman Sachs, and several other investors.
10. Lean Cooperman insider trading case
Lean Cooperman, 73-year-old CEO and founder of Omega advisors, was accused and convicted of insider trading in 2010. He allegedly collaborated with Atlas pipeline partners to acquire insider information and traded stock securities in his favor.
11. The case of Amazon and Insider Trading
Brett Kennedy, a former financial analyst for Amazon.com Inc. or AMZN, had been charged with being an insider trader during September of 2017. It was reported that Kennedy had provided Maziar Rezakhani, who was a fellow alumnus from the University of Washington, with information for the first quarter of 2015 earnings before they had ever been released to the public. What made it illegal was that Rezakhani had given Kennedy $10,000 for this non-public information because Kennedy’s information allowed Rezakhani to make over $115,000 in trading the owned shares of Amazon.
Legal Forms of Insider Trading
When insider trading starts to be used, this term is often in a negative manner. However, there is often insider trading happening legally in the stock exchange every single week. This can only be done because of the SEC’s requirements that states that all transactions have been electronically submitted in a specific time frame. All of the electronically submitted transactions go directly to SEC while this information is being disclosed on any company’s website.
One of the first steps in providing legal disclosure of company stock transactions was caused by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. All major owners and directors are required to disclose transactions, stakes, and any changes in ownership. There are specific forms that are used to show this information to the SEC. Form 3 will be used as the initial filing, which shows stakes in a company. The next form that has to be completed is Form 4, which will be used to disclose the company stock transaction in a total of two days after the sale or purchase. The last form is Form 5, which will be used to declare any early transactions or for the transactions that are considered deferred.
Insider trading can be a concept that may be hard to comprehend at certain points, but the main takeaway points are as follows:
Based on information from the SEC, legal insider trading is possible as long as it can conform to all rules that have been made by the SEC.
Insider training is seen to be the sale or purchase of stocks in a company that is considered publicly traded by a person who may have access to material information that is non-public or has not been released to the public about that particular stock.
Material information is seen as the information that may impact an investor’s decision to purchase ng selling securities. Non-public information will be material information that has not been provided to the public legally.
There have been several scandalous cases of insider trading over the last years in different countries. The word insider trading has some negativity. I mean, it is perceived as an illegal and fraudulent kind of business, practiced all over the world. However, the rules and regulations governing this kind of trade are different and vary from one country to another. Far from expectations, insider trading can be legal. This is shocking. But yes! It is conditionally allowed in some countries. It is allowed depending on the time of the trade. It is also allowed when corporate insiders trade public securities but report the matter to the exchange commission or securities for public disclosure. What is insider trading? This is the buying and selling of public securities or stocks by selfish individuals in breach of trust or confidence. They take advantage of power or while in possession of secret or non-public information about the securities. More often than not, insider trading is termed illegal and unfair to the rest of the traders who cannot access first-hand information. This is because every shareholder has equal rights in an investment.