SEC Charges Whittier Trust and Fund Manager in Insider Trading Investigation Into Expert Networks
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a South Pasadena, Calif.-based wealth management company and a former fund manager with insider trading on non-public information about technology companies. The charges are the agency’s latest in its ongoing investigation into expert networks and hedge fund trading.
The SEC alleges that Whittier Trust Company and fund manager Victor Dosti participated in an insider trading scheme involving the securities of Dell, Nvidia Corporation, and Wind River Systems. Dosti generated profits and avoided losses for funds he managed at Whittier Trust by trading on confidential information that he obtained from Danny Kuo, a Whittier Trust fund manager who Dosti supervised. Kuo was charged by the SEC in January 2012 and is currently cooperating with the investigation.
Whittier Trust and Dosti agreed to pay nearly $1.7 million to settle the charges.
“Time and again, Dosti received what he knew was inside information from Kuo and traded on it to generate illicit gains for the funds he managed,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, Senior Associate Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office. “Now, he and Whittier Trust join a long list of insider trading perpetrators who have been held accountable by the SEC for their transgressions.”
The SEC has charged more than three dozen individuals and firms in enforcement actions arising out of its expert networks investigation, which has uncovered widespread insider trading at several hedge funds and other investment advisory firms. The first series of charges were brought in 2011.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Dosti used non-public information obtained from employees at Dell and Nvidia to trade in advance of five quarterly earnings announcements in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Dosti reaped profits and avoided losses of more than $475,000 for Whittier Trust funds. Dosti also made $247,000 in illicit profits for Whittier Trust funds by trading Wind River stock based upon detailed information that Kuo obtained from an Intel employee about Intel’s confidential negotiations to acquire Wind River in 2009.
The SEC’s complaint charges Whittier Trust and Dosti with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933. Whittier Trust agreed to pay disgorgement of $724,051.62 plus prejudgment interest of $75,296.00 and a penalty of $724,051.62. Dosti agreed to pay disgorgement of $77,900.00 plus prejudgment interest of $2,951.43, and a penalty of $77,900.00. The settlements are subject to court approval and would permanently enjoin Whittier Trust and Dosti from future violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. Whittier Trust and Dosti neither admit nor deny the SEC’s charges. The SEC acknowledges the cooperation of Whittier Trust in the investigation.
The SEC’s investigation has been conducted by Stephen Larson, Daniel Marcus and Joseph Sansone – members of the SEC’s Market Abuse Unit in New York – and Matthew Watkins, Justin Smith, Neil Hendelman, Diego Brucculeri and James D’Avino of the New York Regional Office. The case has been supervised by Sanjay Wadhwa. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.