Thursday, November 5, 2009

More Insider Trading Arrests

CNBC reported:

Fourteen more people have been charged in a widening federal investigation of insider trading that started in the hedge fund industry but now includes a broad array of Wall Street firms.

It turns out insider deals involved private equity underwriters (PEU's):

Much of the alleged insider trading involved the private equity boom in 2007, according to the complaints.
Yet, these criminals "were different":

"We allege some of the defendants (were) taking a page from the drug dealers' playbook (and) deliberately used anonymous, hard-to-trace, pre-paid cellphones in order to avoid law enforcement detection," federal prosecutor Preet Bharara told a news conference.

"When sophisticated business people begin to adopt the methods of common criminals, we have no choice but to treat them as such," he said.

Why the distinction? Is it to divert attention from insiders picking up regular phones to cash in on their knowledge? Take New York Fed Chair Stephen Friedman who made big ka-ching buying Goldman Sachs stock in the midst of the financial meltdown. Or consider Dick Durbin who purchased Warren Buffet's Bershire Hathaway after being informed that financial markets could fail.

Good thing Stephen and Dick used regular phones to make their insider investment calls. It'd be a shame to treat them like common criminals.