SEC Charges Movie Producer and Ring of Relatives and Business Partners with Insider Trading
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against a Hollywood movie producer along with his brother, cousin, and three others in his circle of friends and business partners for insider trading in the stock of a company for which he served on the board of directors.
The SEC alleges that Mohammed Mark Amin, prior to a company board meeting, learned confidential information about expanding business opportunities for DuPont Fabros Technology Inc., which develops and manages highly-specialized and secure facilities that maintain large computer servers for technology companies through long-term leases with them. Amin tipped his brother Robert Reza Amin, cousin Michael Mahmood Amin, and long-time friend and business manager Sam Saeed Pirnazar with nonpublic details about three new leases that DuPont Fabros was negotiating and three loans it was obtaining to develop new facilities. The three illegally traded on the basis of that inside information. Reza Amin went on to tip his friends and business associates Mary Coley and Ali Tashakori, who also illegally traded. Together they made more than $618,000 in insider trading profits when DuPont Fabros stock rose 36 percent after the company issued an earnings release highlighting the development of these new facilities.
Mark Amin and the five others agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by collectively paying nearly $2 million.
“Mark Amin disregarded his board responsibilities and betrayed shareholders at DuPont Fabros in favor of giving his circle of relatives and friends an inside scoop to trade on nonpublic information,” said John M. McCoy III, Associate Regional Director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Mark Amin is a motion picture executive with his own production company. He lives in Los Angeles and is credited as the producer or executive producer for more than 75 Hollywood movies including Frida, Eve’s Bayou, and four movies in the Leprechaun series. In 2007, Amin began serving on the board of directors at DuPont Fabros, a real estate investment trust (REIT) whose common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. DuPont Fabros develops and operates wholesale data centers that maintain computer servers for such companies as Microsoft, Facebook, and Google. Amin resigned from the board in February 2011.
The SEC alleges that Mark Amin first learned nonpublic information about new leases and loans pending for DuPont Fabros during a board meeting in December 2008, and he further discussed their status in a phone conversation with the company’s CEO on Jan. 7, 2009. That same day, Mark Amin tipped his cousin Michael Amin of Los Angeles and his friend and business manager Pirnazar of Manhattan Beach, Calif. In fact, Mark Amin initially asked Michael to lend him money and discussed Michael’s purchasing DuPont Fabros stock for both of them in Michael’s name.
The SEC further alleges that on February 4, Mark Amin received materials for a special board meeting to approve the three new loans. The next morning, he tipped this inside information to his brother Reza Amin of Los Angeles, who began buying DuPont Fabros stock just 17 minutes after receiving the tip. The board approved the three new loans later that day.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Reza Amin tipped Coley, a British citizen who lives in Los Angeles with whom he has a daughter. They are also business partners in a small chain of video stores. On February 6, he brought Coley into the local E*Trade branch office where he maintained a brokerage account so she could open a new brokerage account to purchase DuPont Fabros shares. Reza Amin also tipped his friend Tashakori, who lives in Rolling Hills, Calif. As a self-employed licensed general contractor, Tashakori was engaged in various construction projects for both Mark and Reza Amin. Tashakori purchased DuPont Fabros stock based on Reza Amin’s tip.
According to the SEC’s complaint, DuPont Fabros issued its 2008 earnings release after the market closed on Feb. 11, 2009, and highlighted that it had obtained the three new loans and entered into the three new leases. From January 8 to February 10, Michael Amin had purchased 145,000 DuPont Fabros shares that yielded him $318,646 in insider trading profits when the stock price soared upon news of the earnings release. Pirnazar purchased 10,500 shares and made $19,915 in illicit profits. From February 5 to February 11, Reza Amin purchased 214,600 DuPont Fabros shares for an eventual illegal profit of $241,767. Coley purchased 20,050 shares and realized insider trading profits of $23,690. Tashakori purchased 15,000 shares and profited $14,479.
The SEC’s complaint charges the Amins, Pirnazar, Coley, and Tashakori with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5(a) and (c) thereunder. Without admitting nor denying the allegations, they have agreed to collectively pay disgorgement of $618,497, prejudgment interest of $78,000, and penalties totaling $1,236,994. They also have agreed to the entry of a final judgment permanently enjoining them from violating Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5. Mark Amin has additionally agreed to a bar from serving as an officer or director of a public company for 10 years. The settlement is subject to court approval.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Los Angeles Regional Office enforcement attorney John Britt. The SEC thanks the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for its assistance in this matter.