Former U.S. Rep. Stephen Buyer charged with insider trading

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Former Indiana Rep. Stephen Buyer has been charged with insider trading, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. File photo from Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI. | License Photo

July 25 (UPI) — The Securities and Exchange Commission charged former Indiana Rep. Stephen Buyer with insider trading Monday for buying more than $1.5 million in stocks based on non-public information.

The former Republican lawmaker, who formed a consultant firm called the Steve Buyer Group after leaving Congress in 2011, is accused of profiting off of T-Mobile’s plan to acquire Sprint and non-public information about Navigate Consulting, according to the SEC filing.

“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 S. Grewal, Director of the SEC Enforcement Division.

Buyer was a Gulf War veteran and served in Congress from 1993 to 2011. He also served as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee from 2005.

According to the SEC filing, Buyer learned about T-Mobile’s nonpublic plan to buy Sprint from a T-Mobile executive during a golf outing in March 2018. The filing said Buyer purchased Sprint securities the next day before the merger was announced, acquiring $568,000 of Sprint stock in his personal accounts, a joint account with his cousin and an acquaintance’s account. Once the merger was leaked in April 2018, Buyer saw an immediate profit of more than $107,000.

Buyer is also accused of purchasing more than $1 million of Navigant Consulting Inc. securities before an announcement went public that it was being acquired by one of Buyer’s consulting clients, Guidehouse LLP. The SEC said Buyer also spread those stock purchases across several accounts, including his wife’s and son’s personal accounts. Buyer sold nearly all of the shares the day the Navigant acquisition was publicly announced and profited more than $227,000.

Buyer is charged with four counts of securities fraud for both stock purchases. His wife, Joni Buyer, is also named in the charges because her account benefited from the investment, but she is not accused of any legal wrongdoing.

“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,” Grewal said.

Buyer’s lawyer has not commented.

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