A Microsoft portfolio manager and his business partner are charged with insider trading that profited them $393,125.
According to the SEC, Brian Jorgenson of Lynwood, Wash., leaked confidential information about upcoming Microsoft announcements to his partner Sean Stokke of Seattle in order to parlay profits, which they then split.
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Their goal, the SEC says, was to stockpile enough cash to start a hedge fund.
“Abusing access to Microsoft’s confidential information and generating unlawful trading profits is not a wise or legal business model for starting a hedge fund,” said Daniel M. Hawke, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit and director of the SEC’s Philadelphia Regional Office.
The U.S. Attorney in Washington is seeking criminal charges.
The SEC cited three instances when the pair conspired to commit insider trading.
The first, from April 2012, called for investing $14,000 in Microsoft just before it announced it was investing $300 million in Barnes & Noble’s e-reader, Nook. That reaped them $185,000 when Microsoft’s stock rose after the announcement.
The second instance was that they bought $50,000 of Microsoft stock options in July 2013 at a low price just before Microsoft announced its quarterly earnings would be off more than 11% from what was expected. When the stock dropped after the announcement, Stokke sold at a profit of $195,000.
The third charge says Jorgenson told Stokke Microsoft’s quarterly earnings in October 2013 would be higher than expected. They bought more than $45,000 in a fund that included Microsoft stock, then sold it when the fund went up on the release of the news. They netted $13,000.
The SEC wants the pair to pay back their ill-gotten gains and fines, and to bar Jorgenson from becoming a director or officer of a corporation.
Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.