Friday, June 15, 2012

Federal Judge Imposes Ten-Year Officer and Director Bar on Insider Trader; SEC Had Sought Lifetime Bar

A federal judge imposed a ten-year officer and director bar in an SEC enforcement action on a pharmaceutical company's Director of Business Development and Global Licensing who, although not a company officer or director, was acting in a fiduciary capacity while involved in the due diligence and negotiations for deals with other pharmaceutical companies. The SEC had sought a lifetime bar. The court foind that the actor was not a repeat offender. While he did trade on inside information repeatedly over a period of two years, noted the court, this does not mean that he is a repeat offender in the sense that he is someone who has committed separate violations of securities laws in the past. SEC v.Bankosky (SD NY), May 21, 2012, No. 12 Civ. 1012 (HB).

The insider trading began almost immediately after the actor started at the company in 2008, continued for a period of two years, and involved four different companies and at least thirteen different trades. While undeniably serious and not isolated, noted the court, the actor's conduct lacked certain other aspects that courts usually rely on when finding securities law violations to be egregious.

That said, the court found that the purchases did take place over a two year period and were unquestionably timed to significant corporate events at the company of which the actor was aware, evincing knowing misconduct. More troubling to the court were his responses to the SEC investigation and his failure to provide the court any assurance of his acceptance of responsibility.  The court was also persuaded that the SEC adequately demonstrated that it lacks assurances against future misconduct.