SEC Files International Insider Trading Case

Insider trading has long been a staple of the SEC Enforcement Division. This past week the Commission filed an international insider trading action in which one person was the center of a series of insider trading episodes involving three investment banks and multiple corporate deals. The trading netted millions of dollars. SEC v. Debih, Civil Action No. 1:21-cv-10138 (S.D.N.Y. Filed November 30, 2021).

Mr. Debih, a resident of Switzerland, is the only named defendant. There are other key players in this action, however. Benjamin Taylor and Darina Windsor, a couple in a romantic relation, were each employed in London as investment bankers at different banks. They are named defendants in another Commission enforcement action, SEC v. Taylor, Civil Action No. 19-cv-09744 (S.D.N.Y. Filed March 27, 2020). Mr. Debih is reference in the complaint. A second facet of this case centered around Bryan Cohen, employed at an international investment bank in the U.K.

The complaint naming Mr. Debih as a defendant centers on two schemes. One involved Mr. Taylor and Ms. Windsor. The second involve Mr. Cohen. Both schemes generated substantial, illegal trading profits.

The first scheme began in December 2012. Mr. Taylor obtained inside information from the investment bank at which he was employed. On more than one occasion the information was furnished to Mr. Debih. He traded and then tipped a friend, George Nikas, who also traded.

Subsequently, in February Mr. Taylor, through an intermediary, again furnished inside information to Defendant Debih. The information traced to his girlfriend who obtained it from the investment bank at which she was employed. The information was used by Mr. Debih to trade profitably. Again, the inside information was passed on to George Nikas who also traded. Mr. Nikas shared his trading profits. The tips involved multiple corporate transactions. As a result Mr. Debih netted millions of dollars in trading profits.

A second part of the scheme centered on Mr. Cohen who misappropriated inside information about two corporate deals from the investment bank where he was employed. That information was furnished to Mr. Debih and Nikas. Each traded profitably on the inside information. That information focused on separate transactions involving Syngenta AG and Buffalo Wiled Wings, Inc. Significant trading profits were again realized. The complaint alleges violations of Exchange Act Section 10(b) and 14(e). The complaint is pending. See Lit. Rel. No. 25274 (November 30, 2021).

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