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: The $4.3 billion chat room.
The big news this week is that six firms will pay $4.3 billion to a suite of international regulators in the first set of punishments from rigging the foreign exchange market. Of course, it’s not at all clear that what Forex fixers did was that big of a deal. The Financial Conduct Authority in the U.K. says that “[t]he traders put their own interest ahead of their customers, they manipulated the market — or attempted to manipulate the market — and abused the trust of the public.” That’s lawyer-speak for “that’s not fair.” The fines amount to a $4.3 billion “unsportsmanlike conduct” penalty.
Okay, so Daniel Gallagher, Michael Piwowar, Nino and his sidekick all seem to agree that insider-trading is, in fact, a crime. But what sort of crime? The SEC’s two Republicans think that it may sort of be a victimless crime, insofar as it isn’t always possible to figure out who the victims are, and insofar as the SEC staff worked way too hard convincing Steve Cohen to give it $602 million to go away to have it all go to some scummy plaintiffs’ lawyers. Read more »
A Northern California hedge-fund manager was charged Friday with making more than $900,000 on trades in Google Inc. and other technology companies based on improper tips he allegedly received from a neighbor and a business associate. U.S. authorities alleged that Doug Whitman, of Whitman Capital in Menlo Park, Calif., shared information about other publicly traded companies or made payments in exchange for the tips. He also allegedly went so far as threatening to never speak to one co-conspirator if she wasn’t going to be a “slimeball” anymore, authorities said. [WSJ]