SEC Obtains Final Judgment Against Former Accounting Firm Partner

Litigation Release No. 24554 / August 7, 2019

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Thomas W. Avent, Jr., et a, , 1:16-cv-02459-WMR (N.D. Ga.)

On August 2, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission obtained a final judgment against a Mississippi mergers and acquisitions attorney, certified public accountant, and former accounting firm partner who was charged by the agency in 2016 with insider trading.

The SEC's complaint, filed on July 7, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, alleges that Thomas W. Avent, Jr., while performing tax due diligence work as a partner at an international accounting firm in 2011 and 2012, obtained highly confidential nonpublic information about three potential acquisitions of publicly- traded companies. The complaint further alleges that Avent tipped his stock broker about the upcoming acquisitions on three separate occasions, and that Avent's stock broker in turn passed the tips to a former colleague and long-time friend.

The final judgment, to which Avent consented without admitting or denying the allegations of the complaint, permanently enjoins Avent from violating the antifraud provisions of Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-3 thereunder and orders him to pay a civil penalty of $125,000. In a separate administrative proceeding, Avent consented to the entry of a permanent bar from appearing or practicing before the Commission under Rule 102(e)(3) of the Commission's Rules of Practice.

The SEC's investigation was conducted by Ruta G. Dudenas and Rebecca Hollenbeck of the Chicago Regional Office, and was supervised by Amy S. Cotter. The SEC's litigation, which continues against a co-defendant, is led by Ms. Dudenas, Robert Moye, Pat Huddleston, and John E. Birkenheier.