U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Litigation Release No. 22261 / February 17, 2012
SEC v. John Kinnucan and Broadband Research Corporation, Civil Action 12-CV-1230 (SDNY) (AJN) (AJP)
SEC Charges Oregon-Based Expert Consulting Firm and Owner with Insider Trading in Technology Sector
On February 17, 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil injunctive action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York charging John Kinnucan and his Portland, Oregon-based expert consulting firm Broadband Research Corporation with insider trading.
The charges stem from the SEC’s ongoing investigation of insider trading involving expert networks. In a parallel criminal case, Kinnucan has been arrested and charged with one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud.
The SEC has charged 22 defendants 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 insider trading has occurred in the securities of 12 technology companies — including Apple, Dell, Fairchild Semiconductor, Marvell Technology, and Western Digital — for illicit gains totaling nearly $110 million.
The SEC alleges that Kinnucan and Broadband claimed to be in the business of providing clients with legitimate research about publicly-traded technology companies, but instead typically tipped clients with material nonpublic information that Kinnucan obtained from prohibited sources inside the companies. Clients then traded on the inside information. Portfolio managers and analysts at prominent hedge funds and investment advisers paid Kinnucan and Broadband significant consulting fees for the information they provided. Kinnucan in turn compensated his sources with cash, meals, ski trips and other vacations, and even befriended some sources to gain access to confidential information.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Kinnucan’s misconduct occurred from at least 2009 to 2010, a period during which he generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenues for Broadband. Kinnucan obtained material nonpublic information from well-placed employees at a variety of publicly-traded technology companies.
The SEC’s complaint specifically alleges that in July 2010, Kinnucan obtained material nonpublic information from a source at F5 Networks Inc., a Seattle-based provider of networking technology. On the morning of July 2, Kinnucan learned that F5 had generated better-than-expected financial results for the third quarter of its 2010 fiscal year, with the public announcement scheduled for July 21. Within hours of learning the confidential details, Kinnucan had phone conversations or left messages with several clients to convey that F5’s revenues would exceed market expectations. At least three clients — an analyst and two portfolio managers — caused trades at their respective investment advisory firms on the basis of Kinnucan’s inside information. The insider trading resulted in profits or avoided losses of nearly $1.6 million.
The SEC’s complaint, which charges Kinnucan and Broadband with violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, seeks a final judgment ordering them to disgorge their ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, requiring them to pay financial penalties, and permanently enjoining them from future violations.