5 Charged with Insider Trading Over Merger Between Philadelphia, Japanese Firms
The US Securities and Exchange Commission charged two financial advisors and three others in their circle of family and friends with insider trading for more than $1.8 million in illicit profits based on confidential information about a Philadelphia-based insurance holding company’s merger negotiations with a Japanese firm.
The SEC’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, charges Timothy J. McGee, of Malvern, Pa., Michael W. Zirinsky, of Schwenksville, Pa., Robert Zirinsky, of Quakertown, Pa. and Hong Kong residents Paulo Lam and Marianna sze wan Ho with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder.
The complaint also names as relief defendants Michael Zirinsky’s wife Kellie F. Zirinsky, sister Jillynn Zirinsky, mother Geraldine A. Zirinsky, and grandmother Mary L. Zirinsky for the purpose of recovering illegal profits in their trading accounts. Lam and Ho have each agreed to settle the SEC’s charges and pay approximately $1.2 million and $140,000 respectively.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that McGee and Michael Zirinsky, who are registered representatives at Ameriprise Financial Services, illegally traded in the stock of Philadelphia Consolidated Holding Corp. (PHLY) based on nonpublic information about the company’s impending merger with Tokio Marine Holdings.
The complaint alleges that McGee misappropriated the inside information from a PHLY senior executive who was confiding in him through their relationship at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) about pressures he was confronting at work. McGee then purchased PHLY stock in advance of the merger announcement on July 23, 2008, and made a $292,128 profit when the stock price jumped 64 percent that day.
The complaint further alleges that McGee tipped Michael Zirinsky, who purchased PHLY stock in his own trading account as well as those of his wife, sister, mother, and grandmother. Zirinsky tipped his father Robert Zirinsky and his friend Paulo Lam, who in turn tipped another friend whose wife Marianna sze wan Ho also traded on the nonpublic information. The complaint alleges that the Zirinsky family collectively obtained illegal profits of $562,673 through their insider trading. Lam made an illicit profit of $837,975 and Ho profited by $110,580.
The complaint seeks a final judgment ordering disgorgement of ill-gotten gains together with prejudgment interest from the defendants and relief defendants, and permanent injunctions and penalties against the defendants.
Lam and Ho have each consented, without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, to the entry of a final judgment permanently enjoining them from violating Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5. Lam agreed to pay $837,975 in disgorgement, $123,649 in prejudgment interest, and a penalty of $251,392. Ho has agreed to pay $110,580 in disgorgement, $16,317 in prejudgment interest, and a penalty of $16,587. The settlements are subject to court approval.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Philadelphia Regional Office enforcement staff Brendan P. McGlynn, Patricia A. Paw and Daniel L. Koster. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Scott A. Thompson, Nuriye C. Uygur, and G. Jeffrey Boujoukos.