The SEC today charged Mark Cuban, Dallas entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, with insider trading for selling 600,000 shares of the stock of the Internet search engine company Mamma.com on the basis of material, non-public information concerning an impending stock offering. In what appears to be another “PIPE”-type case (previously discussed here), the SEC alleges that
in June 2004, Mamma.com Inc. invited Cuban to participate in the stock offering after he agreed to keep the information confidential. The complaint further alleges that Cuban knew that the offering would be conducted at a discount to the prevailing market price and that it would be dilutive to existing shareholders.
Within hours of receiving this information, according to the complaint, Cuban called his broker and instructed him to sell Cuban’s entire position in the company. When the offering was publicly announced, Mamma.com’s stock price opened at $11.89, down $1.215 or 9.3 percent from the prior day’s closing price of $13.105. According to the complaint, Cuban avoided losses in excess of $750,000 by selling his stock prior to the public announcement of the offering.
In its Litigation Release, Scott W. Friestad, Deputy Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said, “As we allege in the complaint, Mamma.com entrusted Mr. Cuban with nonpublic information after he promised to keep the information confidential. Less than four hours later, Mr. Cuban betrayed that trust by placing an order to sell all of his shares. It is fundamentally unfair for someone to use access to nonpublic information to improperly gain an edge on the market.”