HDNet's Mark Cuban charged with insider trading; read the complaint here

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Mark Cuban

Updated, 12:10 p.m. November 17:

Billionaire Mark Cuban is most closely associated with Dallas, thanks to his ownership of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. But he's got a Denver connection, too. As pointed out in "HDNet Gains," Cuban's HDNet -- a service that reached out to Dan Rather after his ignominious departure from CBS -- is largely based in our fair city. No doubt the employees here will have an opinion about word today that the Security and Exchange Commission has accused Cuban of insider trading. Read the SEC complaint here, and click "More" to see the Commission's press release outlining the charges and Cuban's response. -- Michael Roberts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


SEC FILES INSIDER TRADING CHARGES AGAINST MARK CUBAN

Washington, D.C., Nov. 17, 2008 – The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Dallas entrepreneur Mark Cuban with insider trading for selling 600,000 shares of the stock of an Internet search engine company on the basis of material, non-public information concerning an impending stock offering.

The Commission’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, 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.

“Insider trading cases are a high priority for the Commission. This case demonstrates yet again that the Commission will aggressively pursue illegal insider trading whenever it occurs,” said Linda Chatman Thomsen, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

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.”

The complaint alleges that Cuban violated Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The Commission’s complaint seeks to permanently enjoin Cuban from future violations of the federal securities laws, disgorgement (with prejudgment interest), and a financial penalty.

Mark Cuban's response:

NEW YORK, Nov. 17 -- Mark Cuban today responded to a civil complaint filed by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States District for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.


In its complaint, the Commission charges that Mr. Cuban engaged in violations of the federal securities laws in connection with transactions in the securities of Mamma.com Inc.

This matter, which has been pending before the Commission for nearly two years, has no merit and is a product of gross abuse of prosecutorial discretion. Mr. Cuban intends to contest the allegations and to demonstrate that the Commission's claims are infected by the misconduct of the staff of its Enforcement Division.

Mr. Cuban stated, "I am disappointed that the Commission chose to bring this case based upon its Enforcement staff's win-at-any-cost ambitions. The staff's process was result-oriented, facts be damned. The government's claims are false and they will be proven to be so."

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