SEC Alert! The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed insider trading charges against nine individuals in connection with three separate alleged schemes that together yielded more than $6.8 million in ill-gotten gains.
Those charged include a former chief information security officer (CISO), an investment banker, and a former FBI trainee, all of whom allegedly shared confidential information with their friends, who then traded on that confidential information. Each of the three actions announced today originated from the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit’s (MAU) Analysis and Detection Center, which uses data analysis tools to detect suspicious trading patterns.
Chief Information Security Officer Tipped Friends
In one action, the SEC alleges that Amit Bhardwaj, the former CISO of Lumentum Holdings Inc., and his friends, Dhirenkumar Patel, Srinivasa Kakkera, Abbas Saeedi, and Ramesh Chitor, traded ahead of two corporate acquisition announcements by Lumentum, thereby generating more than $5.2 million in illicit profits.
Investment Banker Tipped Friend
In another action, the SEC alleges insider trading by investment banker Brijesh Goel and his friend Akshay Niranjan, who was a foreign exchange trader at a large financial institution. The SEC alleges that the two men, close friends from business school, made more than $275,000 from illegally trading ahead of four acquisition announcements in 2017 that Goel learned about through his employment. The complaint further alleges Niranjan purchased call options on the target companies and later wired Goel $85,000 for Goel’s share of the proceeds.
Former FBI Trainee Tipped Friend
Finally, in a third action, the SEC alleges that Seth Markin, a former FBI trainee, and his friend Brandon Wong made approximately $82,000 and $1.3 million, respectively, from illegally trading ahead of the February 2021 announcement of a tender offer by Merck & Co., Inc., to acquire Pandion Therapeutics, Inc. The SEC’s complaint alleges that Markin secretly reviewed the binder of deal documents about the planned tender offer from his then-romantic partner, who worked as an associate for a law firm representing Merck on the deal, traded on the MNPI, and tipped his close friend Wong. The complaint alleges that, after the announcement, Wong bought Markin a Rolex watch to thank him for the tip.