“Don’t tell anyone else..we gotta keep this in the family.”
“Dude, no way. I don’t want to go to jail…that Martha Stewart spent 5 months in the slammer.”
It was instant messages such as these that solidified prosecutors’ case against two former stock brokers who profited from confidential information related to computer-services provider IBM Corp.’s $1.2 billion acquisition of the software company SPSS Inc. in 2009.
Yesterday, U.S. authorities charged 34-year old Thomas Conradt, 32-year-old David Weishaus and three unnamed colleagues from their former employer, Euro Pacific Capital Inc., with insider trading. According to prosecutors, the group raked in more than $1 million in illicit gains by trading ahead of the IBM-SPSS deal.
The scheme started when an unnamed associate at Cravath Swaine & Moore, the law firm that represented IBM in the deal, leaked information about the upcoming acquisition to a friend who was an analyst. The analyst was Conradt’s roommate. Conradt soon told Weishaus, with whom he had attended law school. The two tipped some of their co-workers and also openly discussed online their plans to profit off the inside information. In one message, Weishaus wrote to Conradt, “We need spss to run up i need that lexus.”
“Thomas Conradt, David Weishaus and their co-conspirators engaged in a chain of illegal tipping simply because they wanted to get rich quick,” federal prosecutor Preet Bharara said in a statement.
Conradt and Weishaus each face three criminal counts of securities fraud and one criminal count of conspiracy. They face up to 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine for each securities fraud count.
For more recent InsideCounsel stories about insider trading, read: