Is Insider Trading Part of the Fabric on Wall Street? – NYTimes.com

Wall Street sign on Wall Street

Since the financial crisis, the S.E.C. [Securities and Exchange Commission] has spent a lot of time and money trying to plug leaks. In a case worthy of “Law & Order,” prosecutors used wiretaps to ensnare Raj Rajaratnam, the billionaire Galleon hedge fund manager whose web of tipsters stretched from Wall Street to some of the mightiest corporations in the land. For his crimes, Mr. Rajaratnam, whom prosecutors called “the modern face of illegal insider trading,” was sentenced last October to 11 years in prison.

Mr. Rajaratnam’s conviction, in the largest insider-trading scandal in a generation, handed a much-needed win to the beleaguered S.E.C. Only two years earlier, the commission had been lambasted for missing glaring evidence of Bernard L. Madoff’s vast Ponzi scheme.

But Mr. Parmigiani and others suspect that the P.R. of the Galleon case glosses over risks that insider trading can and does occur regularly at many Wall Street firms. In their view, it has become institutionalized. The flow of information between a firm’s analysts, its traders and its clients — a lucrative heads-up on stock upgrades and downgrades, for instance — can bolster trading profits, brokerage commissions and, ultimately, Wall Street paydays. Those in the know can get rich before the rest of us know what happened.

“Prosecutors say insider trading won’t be tolerated, that this is justice,” Mr. Parmigiani says of the Galleon case. “But they refuse to acknowledge that their widespread net has a very big hole in it.”

What exactly happened at Lehman? Mr. Parmigiani says traders there were routinely advised of changes in analysts’ company ratings before those changes were made public. That way, Lehman could profit on subsequent market moves. Here is how he describes it: First, research officials tipped off the traders; then Lehman’s proprietary trading desk, which cast bets with the firm’s own money, positioned itself accordingly. Lehman salespeople also alerted favored hedge funds. Only later, he says, were ratings changes made public.

Blowing the whistle on any big corporation, as Mr. Parmigiani tried to do in the case of Lehman, is almost always perilous. Shortly after noting the suspicious trading in Amkor, Mr. Parmigiani says, he was fired for not being a team player. He has since been unable to find work on Wall Street.

via Is Insider Trading Part of the Fabric on Wall Street? – NYTimes.com.

Strange Random Wall Street Quote:

“Do you think The Wall Street Journal is a subversive publication?” – Michael Tigar

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Posted on May 20, 2012, in Article and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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