They always make the little guy take the fall. Avoiding $117,000 losses on $1 million is nothing compared to what some people get away with.
The CEO, meanwhile, walked away with up to $90 million:
The other executives were “not aware” when they sold their shares:
> Equifax, the credit report company hacked over the summer exposing the personal information of 145 million Americans, said a special committee has determined that none of the four executives who sold shares at the time did anything wrong.
> The high-level executives sold shares worth a combined $1.8 million in the days immediately after the company discovered the breach.
That is a pretty remarkable coincidence if you ask me.
For reference, the CEO of Intel sold $25 million worth of stock after hearing about the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities before they were disclosed to the public, and he will probably be fine.
Maybe the CEO broke the law too, but the CIO left a clear trail of evidence. He is neither a little guy nor a fall guy.
 page 6 of https://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/2018/comp-pr2018-4...
If we can prove you knew about it, we convict you.
If we can't prove you knew about it, but your transactions appear to be insider trading to a jury, then you have to zero out the transactions (either by repurchasing equivalent stock or some other method).
You don't get charged, but there's no "getting away with it" either.
If the government can't prove its case, it probably shouldn't be getting to a jury either.
In this situation everything seems to have worked correctly.
If you think the stock price should be lower take it up with your elected representatives and see what happens when regulations are put in place.
Yes, the evidence was clear in the case of the CIO, and everything worked as it should in the case of that one person. But as craigc noted, three other executives managed to sell shares before the price drop, so there's a question of how likely those three were to have known about the situation but by chance happened to have no clear evidence against them. That leads to the question of what can be done to more effectively prevent executives from engaging in insider trading in situations where they are aware that the evidence will be too scant to prosecute. One solution proposed was to zero the transactions of stock sales by executives that occurred shortly before an event like this. Saying "the stock price will take care of it" makes no sense in this context.
If you wanted to advocate stronger reporting requirements for what executives knew and when then I'd be more comfortable.
Personally, I think the solution is to not allow executives to sell stock without publishing a schedule in which the first sale is more than 9 months from the date of the announced schedule.
Edit: I used to work in the legal industry nearly exclusively in civil court.
So hamstringing the SEC with an arbitrarily high standard just facilitates continued insider trading.
Agreed on the full burden of proof for penalties. But having your gains clawed back is a different fish entirely.
Aware he said "convict" but he probably meant "charge".
Insider trading laws seem tailor made to make sure wall street, and only wall street, is playing with a stacked deck.
This has been looked at before, but the summary from this paper (by the Atlanta Fed) is a good (and as far as I know, unbiased) place to start: https://www.frbatlanta.org/-/media/documents/filelegacydocs/...
Systems fail, so you have to ask which way you want it to fail.
We go by Blackstone's formulation: "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer". The founding fathers often quoted this and it is an integral part of American law.
Yeah, it often sucks and many guilty people go free. I'm sure you can think of specific topics where it is particularly difficult. But we chose to fail this way because we value freedom so highly. So the prosecutor has the burden of proof. This is often why trials go for so long and it takes a long time to form a case.
tldr: It is purposefully a pretty high bar.
No member of congress, the administration or closely related shall ever be punished for anything. For instance, for taking legal action to protect the very company this is about:
And I'm sure there were zero financial interests behind that decision.
You might say : this is not insider trading. I agree, this is much worse: this is taking legal action to protect their own financial interests after they were legitimately punished by the market. That's far, far worse and explicitly not what the legislative authority should be used for.
You’re still seemingly ignoring the presumption of innocence and burden of proof. You seem to place a higher value on punishment of perceived wrongs than on liberty.
That quite frankly terrifies me.
If you don't see a difference between the two... we have very different views of the world.
You have described two punishments. The only difference is severity. Further, your previous comment was far more vague than prison vs clawed back profits.
I value liberty above all else which means all punishment has a high burden of proof and all individuals are assumed innocent in the absence of this proof.
You seem to suggest setting a lower standard because it feels right to you.
That scares the hell out of me.
It's a straw man to say I'm suggesting there shouldn't be a high burden of proof for a severe punishment.
And whether a viewpoint terrified you or not is largely irrelevant.
Personally, I modulate my desire for individual liberty with what I consider a reasonable responsibility to nurture an environment where individuals are afforded opportunities to exercise that liberty.
What you're advocating is mob rule and that's why it is scary.
Obviously there are different standards of proof but the presumption is always innocence and there is always a standard beyond how it "looks". This is preferable because it maximizes liberty.
If you are implying that liberty is zero sum then I disagree.
I'm also uninterested in average liberty. Individual liberty is of utmost importance. Individual rights extend as far as infringing on the rights of others. This is important only in the context of preserving further individual liberty.
(Case 1) A world in which individuals are completely free to do with their wealth as they will (so, no taxes, regulations, etc).
(Case 2) A world in which individuals are absolutely prohibited from wealth transfer. At the time of their death, all individual assets / privileges are seized, then redistributed evenly to the next generation.
Select a random individual from a new generation in each case.
Would you disagree that they have different effective individual liberty? That is, the options available to them to pursue in life?
Essentially, I see effective liberty as the product of rights and means to exercise those rights. And I believe the greatest individual liberty cannot be created without balancing both requirements.
If I get a speeding ticket do I lose my ability to trade? What about a fealony? What if I am on a no-fly list without due process?
but yeah, it’s a weird hypothetical and the SEC is going after a bad actor here, so maybe the system is working
A few years ago it was suggested we use the no-fly list to prohibit gun purchases. And that's an explicitly granted constitutional right. Felons already lose rights such as voting. How "quick" would this release be?
If we treat participation in the stock market as a privilege I think it's entirely reasonable to ask who gets that privilege.
There is an Equifax global CIO above the Equifax US Info Systems business unit CIO. Global CIO knew, Info Sys CIO inferred.
Just another reason to switch to DuckDuck go, whether you are doing something shady or not.
The complaint makes reference to "Ying’s internet browsing history" which sounds more likely to be one of the latter...
Taking the fall means "to bear the blame or punishment for another person's failure or misdeed" . Ying is being charged with his own crimes alone.
Furthermore, we have no evidence about whether (a) the other executives actually committed a violation, (b) Ying is the only one who left a prosecutable paper trail or (c) Ying will take a plea deal and co-operate against the others.
Also seems like a pretty big coincidence that the others sold off their shares immediately after hearing about the breach, but it was unrelated.
That has not yet been concluded. This could be the first move in a series of charges.
That or Ying was uniquely stupid. He texted his direct report “on the phone with [global CIO]. Sounds bad. We may be the one breached. . . . Starting to put 2 and 2 together"  before exercising "all of his vested options to buy Equifax shares, and then immediately [selling] those Equifax shares for total proceeds of more than $950,000" (§ 49) an hour after searching for "(1) 'Experian breach'; (2) 'Experian stock price 9/15/2015'; and (3) 'Experian breach 2015'" on the Internet (§ 42).
 https://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/2018/comp-pr2018-4... § 31
Why would Equifax even have a say in that? It's not like he's a sacrificial lamb. There's evidence against him, it will be used. If evidence is discovered against other individuals, it will be used, regardless of the opinion of Equifax.
"Scapegoating is the practice of singling out a person or group for unmerited blame" . Ying's blame is merited. What happened here is multiple people may have violated securities law and one has been charged. We don't know yet if it's one period or one so far.
I think the consensus here is Equifax hired this guy to take the blame pretty much. That's why we call him the fall guy.
Look at Wells Fargo. Or even HSBC. Apparently, even Toyota tried to cover up its sticky accelerator? Don't forget about VW.
I think when something like this happens the CEO and the board must go to prison even if there is no direct evidence. You must take responsibility for the actions of your reports. I can't see things improving any other way.
What are you on about? Your theory is that Equifax execs presciently knew there would be a breach, and that they’d want to engage in insider trading, so they hired this guy and waited until the breach then told him to break the law too so he could ‘take he fall’?
>After Rule 10b5-1 was enacted, the SEC staff publicly took the position that canceling a planned trade made under the safe harbor does not constitute insider trading, even if the person was aware of the inside information when canceling the trade. The SEC stated that, despite the fact that 10b5-1(c) requires trades to be irrevocable, there can be no liability for insider trading under Rule 10b-5 without an actual securities transaction, based on the U.S. Supreme Court's holding in Blue Chip Stamps v. Manor Drug Stores, 421 U.S. 723 (1975).
Without knowing the 10b5-1 schedule you can't say if insider knowledge was used when executing the plan. The simplest and dumbest version of this would be unique individual sale plans for each share you own for every day of the year. You just cancel the ones you don't want to sell, until you do, and everything is legal.
>Held. (Rehnquist, J.) No. We embrace the holding of the Second Circuit in the 1952 Birnbaum case, 193 F2.d 461 (2d Cir. 1952). That rule demands that a plaintiff must be either a seller or a buyer to seek a remedy under 10b-5 and we reinforce this rule both through contemplation of legislative history and by policy deliberations. The SEC had attempted to get Congress to amend 10b-5 to contain “any attempt to purchase or sell a security”, but Congress had declined to do this. Congress desired to restrict 10b-5 to cases of “actual damage”, and without Birnbaum, evidence of damage would be too theoretical. Regarding policy considerations,the Birnbaum rulemay incite the offerees, knowing that they would not be subject to summary judgment would sue to push the corporate defendant to settle out of court,would lead to “strike suits”. The evidence presented by an offeree at trial would be too subjective, seeing as no objective criteria could assistin measuring plaintiff’s dependence on the prospectus. In conclusion, Manor Drugs has no contractual right to a Birnbaum rule. Manor Drugs was a member of a limited class, but permitting them to utilize the rule would lead to a breakdown of the Birnbaum rule. Reversed.
And of course you can see Congress adding loopholes they can themselves use.
The no insider trading rules are a joke.
1). Set up a 10b5-1 plan selling all your shares each day.
2). Set up a 10b5-1 plan that buys as many shares as possible.
3). Get insider information on the company.
a). If good for company cancel plan from step 1.
b). If bad for company cancel plan from step 2.
c). If neither cancel both plans.
Sorry to say but you're looking for a way to defend an indefensible system.
If you want to see it in action look at what the Intel CEO did.
You're also choosing not to cancel a trade, which is the difference from the example you've cited. Choosing not to cancel a trade based on material, non-public information after establishing a pattern of regularly canceling your planned trades doesn't seem to be something that's been tested (at least in anything discussed here so far).
And note that I'm not saying no one pushes - or crosses - lines; nor am I saying that the system isn't exploitable near the margins. I am saying that if you were as flagrant in abusing it as you posted above, I wouldn't bet on your safety from the SEC.
> Sorry to say but you're looking for a way to defend an indefensible system.
No, I'm contesting a claim that seems inaccurate. I quite readily agree there are things that need fixing.
> If you want to see it in action look at what the Intel CEO did.
I don't think we have enough details about what the Intel CEO did to say much - more shares were sold, but it was plausible the formula was set in advance of discovery of the flaw and more shares were sold simply because the stock had gone up. If you have a source with more details, please share it.
It's a useless and snarky dismissal if I had been saying their interpretation was wrong...
But my entire point has been that we haven't observed their interpretation of the law as applied to the extreme circumstance you described.
At this point, I'm sufficiently skeptical that you're engaging in good faith that I probably won't be responding further.
Obviously a CEO will have knowledge of some things that won't me made public during a scheduled stock sale, like upcoming product roadmaps that may not be released yet, etc. It's impossible to completely avoid this, but scheduling a sale after a breach or major security vulnerability in your products is discovered and well before public disclosure is not okay.
I'm glad this Equifax exec got what he deserved, Krzanich should get the same treatment.
Who cares about the insider trading, that’s mostly a victimless crime.
145 million people had personal identity MG information leaked.
Is anyone being charged for that? The CIO would seem like a relevant candidate.
The Intel debacle aside it did seem like a regular transaction that was not directly related to knowledge of the shit show that is spectre/meltdown
I gather that the loophole to insider trading is that if you sell 0.1% of your shares per month, then decide to sell 99% of it in one month. It's ok, because you were scheduled to sell shares anyway.
Many of us own, through index funds, a small amount of Equifax.
I'd still put this on the executives. They're paid the big bucks to be responsible for the company. Yet, it seems that more and more, we're looking for ways to continue paying them the big bucks, but remove that responsibility. All carrot and no stick, as it were.
Not related, but required to fully underarms how different this case is. Defendant wasnt given insider information, and prosecution accepts this as true. He kept being told he was doing a project for another company, but he slowly figured out that was fabricated story and correctly deduced it was for his own, Equifax.
This is such a borderline and interesting case. I would definitely have preferred a not guilty verdict since this decision unbound what can be considered as insider information. It has the potential to make it very difficult for employees to trade their stock even when not told insider info, but then just being smart.
The bar for having insider information is not that it was handed to you or spoken/emailed and noted as insider info, but rather that you merely have it without regard to how much intelligence or effort you applied.
This is in contrast to an outsider who can use a wide variety of means to synthesize material, non-public conclusions without falling afoul of insider trading laws. (Traffic counts, parking lot surveillance, deducing order flow from order IDs that a company might be leaking, etc. If a company insider argues that they did it that way, they’re likely to lose.)
In this case, once Ying correctly deduces that Equifax is the company involved, he needs to block himself from trading and, if he has a question about his eligibility to trade, to seek personal counsel and/or the advise of his compliance officer.
That's not the bar; you just made that up.
Without knowing all of the pertinent facts of the linked case, it's hard to say how applicable it might or might not be. The summary does certainly exhibit similarities though civil settlement was at least partially reached, in addition to an acquittal, it seems.
See I think the issue here is that when he made the trade he didn't know that Equifax was the company involved, he just made an educated guess with no confirmation from anyone. The question will be whether the pieces of the puzzle he did have access to were "material non-public information" or was it only that he guessed correctly (if he was later shown to be correct but didn't know at the time). The reporting makes it seem like the project was well known to non-insiders so its questionable that just knowing about the project and then guessing can be insider trading.
A lot of stock analysts are worried about the implication of situations where reading a lot about a company, inferring that you expect something might happen, and trading on an educated guess becomes a crime if you're right.
Consider, for example, that you work on the Bing team at a Microsoft and you know that you’re about to release a new search engine feature that’s Really Good (fast, accurate results, etc). You’re confident that it will do well in the market. Obviously you can’t trade Microsoft stock using this knowledge. But can you trade Google stock if you think it will affect Google’s stock price?
On one hand I believe this is insider trading because I asked legal counsel at a company I was working at once and they said that “any material information is insider information, regardless of whether you’re an insider at that company or not”. Seems reasonable: it’s non-public information that you think will materially affect the stock market.
On the other hand I don’t really think this is insider trading because this sounds like it would disqualify just about everyone from participating in the stock market of the industry they work in.
P.S. This is an academic discussion because I don’t pick stocks, I passively invest with index funds.
I get the feeling that illegal insider trading is kind of like speeding: it happens all the time and people get caught and fine for it occasionally.
The SEC, and the Justice Dept in general, has been losing their teeth with regards to white collar crime for quite a while, really ever since Arthur Andersen and Enron.
> I mean, he didn't know that you have to keep track of vulnerabilities in the JARs you package into Internet-facing web services
I won't actually blame him for that. I mean, it was his screwup, as a CIO, but one that could happen to everybody, given some bad luck and some routine mistakes everybody could make from time to time. So here I am not surprised how it happened, I may not know the details but I am pretty sure I understand the general gist of how they got there. The trading part is different - here it's an apparent blatant and willful illegal conduct that is in the open and will be caught. Why a smart and successful man does it? I am curious.
See, I don't know that he did at the time. I think he guessed, sold his stock before he knew whether his guess was right or not, and ended up being right. The question will be whether his guess was based on "material non-public information", but that is a much more difficult thing to determine for someone in the moment.
In the case of the Equifax executives, though, the filings reporting their recent stock sales do not indicate the transactions were part of such plans.
Earlier in the article I linked:
Had they sold the same number of shares today, the executives would have made about $275,000 less than they did last month. Gamble alone would be out nearly $150,000.
Seems like a pretty high risk for such low reward.
Criminal Docket: https://www.plainsite.org/dockets/3a2ok04e4/georgia-northern...
Perhaps we could even take a lesson that under stress people make bad decisions. It could be some kind of warning to us all.
I mean, imagine you're an employee who has stock in your company and want to sell it to buy a house or something. Do you basically have to ensure there's no impending disaster before you dare to sell your stock, otherwise you're a criminal?
I'm sure in hindsight $117,000 would seem a fair amount to not have the SEC on you.
I'm surprised the losses avoided were so little.
So he has a million dollars, but to avoid losing 10% he risks everything, including jail time?
> Defendant Jun Ying (“Ying”) committed securities fraud by engaging in illegal insider trading. After being entrusted with material, nonpublic information about a massive cyber-intrusion and data breach suffered by his employer, Equifax Inc. (“Equifax” or “the company”), Ying exercised all his vested Equifax stock options and sold the shares prior to the public announcement of the breach. By selling when he did, Ying avoided losses in excess of $117,000.
It'll be an interesting case if he pleads not guilty.
If I work at Amazon as a lowly sde and see Jeff bezos fuming in a conference room with the chief privacy and security officers, and I assume Amazon had a data breach and sell my stock, did I insider trade?
OTOH, many execs would be privy to more info than the average investor as a matter of course, and we certainly don't prohibit them from trading.
So, where is the line drawn?
This is an honest question.