Remarks During News Conference Announcing Charges in a $276 Million Insider Trading Scheme
Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
New York, New York
November 20, 2012
Today, once again, I find myself here alongside our criminal law enforcement partners announcing new charges of insider trading by yet another prominent hedge fund firm and its portfolio manager.
You have heard the United States Attorney lay out the disturbing facts of this case.
But I want to take a moment and speak not to today’s insider traders, but to tomorrow’s — those persons, Wall Street professionals or increasingly not, who will wake up tomorrow morning tempted by the mirage of success and false profits.
When they read the headlines about today’s case that all of you will write, my message to them is to let that be a moment of conscience and calculation.
It can be a moment of conscience when they read the headlines and recall the most basic advice that they learned as children, the same advice they teach their own children — do right and not wrong, and play by the rules.
And choose that moment to re-embrace the principles of integrity and fairness that once guided their lives, but which have been replaced by greed and the illusion — and delusion — of achievement that comes with insider trading.
But none of us here rely on conscience alone to deter those who are considering criminal acts. We’re a bit more realistic.
That is why tomorrow morning, when the same would-be insider traders read the headlines, it should also be a moment of calculation.
A moment to calculate exactly what they are up against should they choose to cross the line and break the law by trading on material, nonpublic information.
That calculation should include the cold, hard fact that the SEC and our law enforcement partners are here to stay.
Since October 2009, the SEC has filed more than 170 insider trading actions, the most in the agency’s history for any three-year period.
In these actions, we have charged more than 410 individuals and entities.
The defendants in these actions are alleged to have made more than $600 million in illicit gains. And with today’s case that number has grown to nearly $900 million.
We continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners here in New York and beyond.
The calculation by would-be insider traders must include the realization that while you might be subject to a wiretap if you choose to violate the law, all of us continue to make cases the old-fashioned way.
We painstakingly review hundreds of thousands of documents and e-mails and instant messages, poring over phone records to match up calls between parties, and scouring voluminous trading records to see if there are profitable trades that were placed close in time to those calls.
So banking on the odds that your phone isn’t tapped is a loser’s game, and won’t protect you from law enforcement’s long reach.
The would-be insider traders should also calculate that we have all been remarkably successful in convincing persons to cooperate with the government and provide evidence to us and in a court of law.
So the calculation by tomorrow’s insider traders must include the very real fact that you cannot trust your partners in crime to keep your secrets.
The calculation must also acknowledge that efforts to conceal insider trading have often failed.
So, it doesn’t matter if you get your inside information through consultations arranged by an expert network firm, as was the case in today’s action.
It doesn’t matter if you are not a Wall Street professional, as the involvement of a medical doctor in today’s case proves.
It doesn’t matter if you introduce a middleman to obfuscate the tipping chain by eliminating links between the tipper and the trader.
It doesn’t matter if you speak in code, or if you stuff your file full of research and pretend that you bought the stock because of that research.
It doesn’t matter if you forgo phone calls and e-mails and instead meet face-to-face, because we have used Metrocard swipe records and restaurant reservations to place tippers and tippees at the same location at the same time.
So if you are making that calculation and you think you can outsmart us, recognize that many others thought the same thing.
And they were wrong and suffered career and life-altering consequences as a result.
So in the end, my message to tomorrow’s insider traders is that it’s a dangerous world for those who trade on insider information.
And it’s getting more dangerous.
So whether for reasons of conscience or calculation, the best bet is to not do it at all.
In closing, I’d like to thank Preet Bharara and April Brooks and their teams from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. Their work, as always, has been excellent and exemplifies the very best in public service.
Lastly, I want to recognize the hard work and dedication of the SEC staff that conducted this investigation with thoroughness and unflagging enthusiasm.
Their effort has been exceptional, and I could not be more proud of what they have accomplished. The SEC personnel are Sanjay Wadhwa, Amelia Cottrell, Charles Riely, Matt Watkins, and Neil Hendelman.