Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cinderella's Last Score

From the police blotter, we have this desperate tale of insider trading at Disney. The perps: some poor shlub and his shoe-obsessed girlfriend who just happened to work as an executive assistant at Disney: Former Disney Employee Arrested In Alleged Insider Trading Plot

Federal authorities alleged Wednesday that a Walt Disney Co. executive assistant and her boyfriend engaged in a ham-handed plot to sell Wall Street traders inside information, first offered in a chirpy missive sent to dozens of investment companies.

"Hi, I have access to Disney's (DIS) quarterly earnings report before its release on 05/03/10," the March 5 letter began. "I am willing to share this information for a fee that we can determine later."

The alleged plan went awry. Instead of taking the bait, "multiple hedge funds reported the illicit scheme," the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a press release.

In a pair of complaints filed Wednesday, federal authorities said the letter and subsequent emails were sent by Yonni Sebbag, whose girlfriend Bonnie Hoxie was an assistant to Disney's head of corporate communications.

Like, oh my God!

According to the feds, the couple got antsy as the publication date for the earnings report approached. Sebbag was impatient to start making deals, while Hoxie was already spending her ill-gotten gains:

As the earnings release approached, Mr. Sebbag, 29 years old, and Ms. Hoxie, 33, engaged in an awkward exchange of their own as they waited with growing frustration for the quarterly earnings data to materialize, according to transcripts in both complaints. The exchange at points took on the tone of any couple bickering over mundane issues like bill paying.

"Get things moving with all the powers you have," Mr. Sebbag urged his girlfriend at one point.

"Thanks for the flattery," Ms. Hoxie replied. "I wish you could come to work every day with me."

On the day of the earnings release, Ms. Hoxie sent Mr. Sebbag an email stating "here is the bag that you are going to get for me," the SEC said in a companion civil complaint filed in New York federal court. It said the email included a link to "a picture of an expensive Stella McCartney designer handbag available for $700 at Neiman Marcus."

Mr. Sebbag allegedly replied that he would get her the bag "next week" and added, "I may be able to (buy) u 2 of them." To which she purportedly emailed back, "In that case, I also love love these shoes," and attached a link to a photo of Stella McCartney shoes at Neiman.

On May 22, a "Bj Hoxie," who appeared to be the same Bonnie Hoxie, posted a Facebook update that said, "I go shopping shopping shopping!!"

As if to illustrate that life isn't fair, Mr. Sebbag is being held as a potential flight risk, while Ms. Hoxie is out on $50,000 bond. Hey! Sounds like you're letting the little lady off a little easy! After all, she was the one who was actually planning to pass along the insider information. She was the one who was already planning to spend the money. And, the initial email the pair sent to other investors has been described as "chirpy." Is there any doubt as to who authored that email?

A prediction: Sebbag will do 25 years hard time, while a tearful Hoxie will be sentenced to probation and time-served (if any). Sometimes, equality is for chumps.

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