Microsoft Exec Charged With Insider Trading, SEC Alleges 400K In Illegal Gains

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Reality is always better than fiction. Today the Securities and Exchange Commission charged a — now former — Microsoft “senior manager” with insider trading. The employee, Brian Jorgenson, is accused of working with a friend to trade Microsoft stock and shares of its partners ahead of news such as earnings, generating almost $400,000 in profits over the course of the partnership that began in April of 2012. The pair had intended to use the spoils from their venture to start a hedge fund, according to the SEC.

Protip: If you are going to abuse your job’s access to information to grind out illegal profits with a friend in hopes of building up a big enough stack so that you can open a hedge fund, don’t get caught. You look silly. Not to mention like a bastard. Still, making a cool $393,125 in a year and a half ain’t no small kaboodle, so you have to give Jorgenson and his co-conspirator Sean Stokke props for pulling of the scheme, at least financially. Bastards.

Here’s how it worked: Microsoft planned to invest $300 million into Barnes & Noble’s Nook reader project. Jorgenson found out, passed the information along to Stokke, who bought, according to the SEC, “$14,000 worth of call options on Barnes & Noble common stock.” Microsoft announced the deal, and bounced Barnes & Noble’s stock up about 50%. Profit to the pair? About $185,000. Imagine what they could have made if they already had that hedge fund money they wanted to raise. 

The SEC goes on to note two other cases, including trading before a Microsoft earnings announcements. According to ZDNet, Microsoft fired Jorgenson, and helped the SEC in its investigation. Here are the formal charges:

Jorgenson and Stokke are charged with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, both directly and pursuant to 20(d) of the Exchange Act.  

The SEC seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, and financial penalties against Jorgenson and Stokke as well as an officer-and-director bar against Jorgenson.

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