Ed. note: This is a new weekly column by Elie Mystal, Managing Editor of Above the Law Redline, wrapping up the week that was in law and finance. Elie is not a practicing attorney, and anything he says that you listen to can and will be used against you.
Issue #1: How can you get a permit to do a damned illegal thing?
Bitcoins are a “real” commodity, so says the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Commissioner Mark Wetjen “I do believe we have the authority because if you think of any reasonable reading of our statute, bitcoin classifies as a commodity, “I do believe we have the authority because if you think of any reasonable reading of our statute, bitcoin classifies as a commodity.”
Well maybe if Wetjen wishes really, really hard, Tinkerbell will spring to life and sprinkle enough regulatory pixie dust to give the CFTC the authority it believes it should have. Read more »
Over the last several years, as nearly a dozen former SAC Capital employees have been convicted of securities violations, the firm has taken many steps to redefine its image, from one of a bastion of insider trading to one where such actions are not only frowned upon but strictly prohibited. Such steps include but are not limited to: paying over $1 billion in fines; changing its name; and turning itself into a family office. Last month, Point72 Asset Management, AKA the hedge fund formerly known as SAC, even went so far as to announce that it would be monetarily compensating employees for “setting a proper tone and example on compliance and doing the right thing.” You’d think that all of these things– including the fact that a whole bunch of ex-SAC employees are doing time– would go far to deter people currently working at the hedge fund from engaging in insider trading. And yet, someone in Stamford apparently thought it was necessary still to take away one final temptation from them. Read more »
Phil Falcone is sticking with his narrative for a little debacle called LightSquared: First, GPS companies started using his spectrum without permission, and then said that if Phil started to use it to provide 4G all over this great country, it would be a great country littered with airline wrecks. This planted a seed in the twisted mind of the wickedest man in the whole wide world, Charlie Ergen, who is trying to buy the entire electromagnetic spectrum so that anyone with entertainment needs will have no choice but to come to him and his Dish Network empire. Now, being a man absent of moral fiber, Charlie Ergen thought nothing of buying up as much LightSquared debt as he could on the cheap, even though he more or less explicitly wasn’t allowed to. This “fraudulently deprived Harbinger of control of LightSquared when it was needed most,” so that Charlie and Dish could swoop in and buy the precious if not entirely usable spectrum for nothing. Which, whether you buy Phil’s story or are partial to Charlie’s “it was for my daughter’s college fund” angle, is pretty much what happened.
Also about how he had “no idea” who might’ve been responsible for sideswiping Tim in accounting’s driver side mirror, despite the fact that he was seen peeling out of the parking lot at the time of the incident. This upcoming bout truthiness brought to you by Cohen’s ex-bride, Patricia C. Read more »
In April 2011, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati employee Matthew Kluger was charged with insider trading with a couple of his buddies, in a scheme that went back some 17-odd years. This spooked a fellow WSG&R employee named Dimitry Braverman, because unbeknownst to the Feds, he was running a little insider trading campaign of his own, separate from Kluger’s. Despite the fact that he probably worried about having gaps in his résumé (2009-2011 Insider Trading Professional, 2011-, ???), Braverman decided to pump the brakes on the material non-public information stuff for a while, the Kluger business likely being a bit too close for comfort. About a year later, though, not too long after Kluger was handed the longest insider trading sentence in U.S. history, Braverman got that familiar itch again, an itch more powerful than any fears of getting caught, which he presumably dismissed with a “Fuck it. I’m getting back in the game.” Read more »