Computer Business Review

Former Microsoft manager charged with insider trading

by Ben Sullivan| 20 December 2013

Brian Jorgenson ‘tipped off’ Sean Stokke about the firm's announcements before they were public knowledge.

A former Microsoft manager and his friend have been charged for insider trading by the US securities regulator.

Brian Jorgenson, a former senior manager, is accused of tipping off friend Sean Stokke about Microsoft news before it was publically announced.

Stokke then used this information to trade shares and two shared the profits from such trades, the regulator said.

It said they made $393,125 (£240,000) in profits over an 18-month period.

"For every stock market winner, there is a loser, and trading on confidential inside information is a cheater's way of gaining at the expense of others," Jenny Durkan, a US attorney, said in a statement.

The duo is also accused of buying Barnes & Noble stock prior to an investment by Microsoft in B&N's e-reader, the Nook.

"Abusing access to Microsoft's confidential information and generating unlawful trading profits is not a wise or legal business model for starting a hedge fund," said Daniel M. Hawke, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division's Market Abuse Unit.

"We thwarted the misguided plans of Jorgenson and Stokke as they sought to illegally profit at others' expense."

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said in a statement: "The SEC alleges that Stokke first traded in advance of a public announcement that Microsoft intended to invest $300 million in Barnes & Noble's e-reader business. Jorgenson learned of the impending transaction after his department became involved in the financing aspects of the deal. Jorgenson tipped Stokke so he could purchase approximately $14,000 worth of call options on Barnes & Noble common stock. "Following a joint public announcement on April 30, Barnes & Noble's stock price closed at $20.75 per share, a 51.68 percent increase from the previous day. Jorgenson and Stokke made nearly $185,000 in ill-gotten trading profits."

Jorgenson worked at Microsoft for three years and had a salary of $130,000, the Seattle Times reported. He was a senior manager in the Treasury Group. The scheme was uncovered last month where Jorgenson was subsequently fired.

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