SEC Settles Charges Against Silicon Valley Insider Trading Ring
Litigation Release No. 25330 / February 11, 2022
Securities and Exchange Commission v. NATHANIEL BROWN, BENJAMIN WYLAM, NAVEEN SOOD, MARCUS BANNON, MATTHEW RAUCH, and NARESH RAMAIYA, No. 5:21-cv-04594 (N.D. Cal. filed June 15, 2021)
On February 7, 2022, a federal district court judge entered final consent judgments against Nathaniel Brown and Benjamin Wylam, which concluded the Securities and Exchange Commission's case against a Silicon Valley insider trading ring whose members generated nearly $1.7 million in illegal profits and losses avoided by trading on the confidential earnings information of two local technology companies.
According to the SEC's complaint, filed on June 15, 2021, Brown, who served as the revenue recognition manager for Infinera Corporation, repeatedly tipped Infinera's unannounced quarterly earnings and financial performance results to his best friend, Benjamin Wylam, from April 2016 until Brown left the company in November 2017. The SEC's complaint alleged that Wylam, a high school teacher and bookmaker, traded on this information and also tipped Naveen Sood, who owed Wylam a six-figure gambling debt. Sood traded on this information and tipped his three friends, Marcus Bannon, Matthew Rauch, and Naresh Ramaiya, each of whom also illegally traded on the information.
The SEC's complaint further alleged that Bannon tipped Sood with material, nonpublic information concerning Bannon's employer, Fortinet, Inc. As alleged in the complaint, Bannon learned in early October 2016 that Fortinet was going to unexpectedly announce negative financial results. Bannon allegedly tipped this information to Sood, who used it to trade. After learning the information, Sood tipped Wylam and Ramaiya, who also traded.
Brown and Wylam consented to the entry of final judgments that resolve all claims and permanently enjoin them from violating the antifraud provisions of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. On January 31, 2022, the SEC also ordered that Brown be suspended from appearing or practicing before the Commission pursuant to Rule 102(e)(2) of the Commission's Rules of Practice, based on his felony conviction in a parallel criminal action. The SEC previously resolved its claims against Sood, Bannon, Rauch, and Ramaiya.
In parallel actions brought by the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California, Brown and Wylam each pleaded guilty to related criminal charges. Brown was sentenced to twenty-two months in prison and ordered to forfeit $30,000. Wylam was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and ordered to forfeit $999,000.
The SEC's investigation was conducted by Colby Steele and David Bennett of the Division of Enforcement's Market Abuse Unit, with the assistance of Matthew Koop, Darren Boerner, and Patrick McCluskey in the Market Abuse Unit's Analysis and Detection Center. The case was supervised by Joseph Sansone, Chief of the Market Abuse Unit, and Paul Kim. The litigation was led by Alfred Day and Timothy Halloran. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.