Ex-U.S. congressman Buyer among nine charged in insider trading cases

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A former U.S. congressman from Indiana, technology company executives and an investment banker were among nine people charged in four separate and unrelated insider trading schemes revealed on Monday with the unsealing of indictments in New York City.

Authorities planned a news conference to describe the various ways defendants allegedly used inside information to make millions of dollars illegally in the stock market.

One indictment identified Stephen Buyer as someone who misappropriated secrets he learned as a consultant to make about $350,000 illegally. Buyer, a nine-time Republican congressman leading Indiana’s 4th District (previously 5th District) from 1993 through 2011, served on committees with oversight over the telecommunications industry, the indictment said.

Buyer, 63, was accused in court papers of engaging in insider trading during a merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, among other deals. It said he leveraged his work as a consultant and lobbyist to make illegal profits.

Buyer faces four counts of securities fraud over the alleged deals, and civil charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

An announcement from the SEC said Buyer formed a consulting group after leaving Congress. In 2018, he attended a golf outing with a T-Mobile executive who told him about the company’s nonpublic plan to acquire competitor Sprint. Buyer began buying Sprint shares the next day, the SEC said, acquiring a total of $568,000 in stock in three different accounts. Buyer realized an immediate profit of $107,000 the next month when news of the merger leaked.

In 2019, the SEC said, Buyer bought more than $1 million of Navigant Consulting Inc. securities prior to the public announcement that it would be acquired by another one of Buyer’s consulting clients, Guidehouse LLP. Buyer spread the purchases across several accounts, realizing a profit of more than $227,000 by selling the shares on the day the Navigant acquisition was publicly announced.

“When insiders like Buyer — an attorney, a former prosecutor, and a retired Congressman — monetize their access to material, nonpublic information, as alleged in this case, they not only violate the federal securities laws, but also undermine public trust and confidence in the fairness of our markets,” said Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC Enforcement Division, in written remarks. “We are committed to doing all we can to maintain and enhance public trust by leveling the playing field and holding Buyer accountable for illegally profiting from his access.”

In a second prosecution, three executives at Silicon Valley technology companies were charged with trading on inside information about corporate mergers that one of them learned about from his employer.

In a third case, a man who was training to be an FBI agent allegedly stole inside information from his then-girlfriend who was working at a major Washington D.C. law firm. According to court papers, he and a friend made more than $1.4 million in illegal profits after he learned that Merck & Co. was going to acquire Pandion Therapeutics.

In a fourth indictment, an investment banker based in New York was charged with sharing secrets about potential mergers with another with an understanding that the pair would share illegal profits of about $280,000.

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