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Under Scrutiny: SEC And Insider Trading

Tuesday, 5 Dec 2006 | 1:14 PM ET
SEC
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SEC

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is meeting today. They're looking into how the Securities and Exchange Commission conducted its insider trading inquiry of high-powered hedge fund--Pequot Capital.

The story may seem a bit confusing--but we'll sort it out. Gary Aguirre--an attorney and investigator--was dismissed from the SEC on Sept. 1, 2005. The SEC said it was due to his "inability to work effectively with other staff and his unwillingness to operate within the Securities and Exchange Commission process."

But Aguirre alleged he was fired by the SEC because the investigation he led into Pequot Capital-- got too close to John Mack who is now CEO of Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley.

Aguirre said his inquiry led him to suspect that Mack tipped Pequot to a 2001 merger deal that allowed the hedge fund to make an illegal $18 million insider-trading profit.

The former investigator claimed he wanted to subpoena Mack, but was stopped because of Mack's political clout."

Looking at the overall issue of insider trading--Michelle Caruso-Cabrera was in the middle of a debate on CNBC’s “Morning Call”.

Nick Gillespie--Editor-In-Chief of Reason Magazine-- believes all trades present some degree of insider trading in that some people have information that other people don’t have. He says the key is disclosure and that investors need to know what are the rules governing a particular company. But Gillespie believes you don’t need a single standard. He advocates different kinds of arrangements that people can pick and choose from.

Burton Wiand--Head of Securities and White Collar Practice at Fowler White Boggs Banker-- says no way. He says insider trading is cheating. He argues U.S. markets are based on fairness and honesty. If information comes-not from an independent source but from inside the company--it’s not fair and people won’t participate in that market. He says it also raises the question whether people who are inside the company are ethical. Wiand said “The line to a crap table where the dice are loaded is real short!”