by ilene - August 2nd, 2010 8:06 pm
Courtesy of Cassandra Does Tokyo
I used to smile sophmorically at the sight of a Dentist named Dr Fang, or a Plastic Surgery clinic named Dr Tuck, just as I have long-chuckled at the sight of the The Wyly Brothers moniker in print. Monday morning quarterbacking is always easy, but I can tell you that there was always something fishy about the way their stocks traded (both Sterling Software and Sterling Commerce) – and now, of course, we know why.
Wealthy self-made Texans (however grey their machinations), it seems, are inherently disdainful of regulation and authority, and a sucker for low-hanging fruit irrespective of prevailing law. But rather than being "men" about it (so to speak), and simply taking their operation private at an early stage, or checking out and becoming a citizen of Belize (like Tory Chair Michael Ashcroft or paper-cup scion Kenneth Dart) or creating their own island state with its own zero-tax and regulatory regime (like the Berkley Brothers), the Wyly’s chose to speaketh in forked tongues, milking the system for its benefits, while systematically gaming it in reasonably cynical fashion. Even sadder, they authored a now-dubious book about their formula success – one which undoubtedly excluded a few ignoble "trucs de chef". The Wyly’s, it would seem, expected nothing more than proverbially "having their cake whilst eating it too" versus paying more than their share of tax, forgoing illegal trading gains, or limiting their presence in their beloved fire-ant state to 180 days per calendar year.
There are lessons for the contrarian here, and ammunition for those trying to explain the price momentum phenomena: The Wyly brothers were not alone. I do not mean "alone" in the sense of being in the company of Mr Waksal or Mrs Stewart. Rather, I mean that their entourage, like the Remoras (or sucker fish) feeding upon their hosts errr umm crumbs, was omnipresent in riding the coat-tails of each abuse of material non-public information. Indeed, the daisy-chain is unlikely to have stopped there. Humans DO learn quickly where the fish are hiding, and all manner of observant executing trader, back-office clerk, and/or personal assistant, will surely have suspected the cause and effect of winning trades. Beyond that, information is power, and is often used to curry favor for those looking to reward or impress.
by ilene - August 2nd, 2010 7:57 pm
This evening the SEC announced a massive fraud charge against Dallas-based investors The Wyly brothers.
As Paul Murphy at FT Alphaville notes, the charge — which pertains to activity taking place over 13 years, worth $550 million — makes Rajaratnam and Martha Stewart look like small potatoes.
The gist of the allegations: The brothers Wyly (Samuel and Charles J.) used their various board seats and a network of offshore accounts to trade and conceal their holdings.
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged brothers Samuel E. Wyly and Charles J. Wyly, Jr. of Dallas with violating federal securities laws governing ownership and trading of securities by corporate insiders. The Wyly brothers reaped more than $550 million in undisclosed gains while sitting on corporate boards by trading stock in those public companies through hidden entities located in foreign jurisdictions to conceal their ownership and trading of those securities.
The SEC alleges that the brothers created an elaborate sham system of trusts and subsidiary companies in the Isle of Man and the Cayman Islands to sell more than $750 million worth of stock in four public companies for which they were corporate directors. They also committed an insider trading violation in one of the companies for an unlawful gain of more than $31.7 million.
Along with the Wylys, the SEC charged their attorney Michael C. French of Dallas and their stockbroker Louis J. Schaufele III of Dallas for their roles in the fraudulent scheme. French was on the board of directors at three of the companies.
"The cloak of secrecy has been lifted from the complex web of foreign structures used by the Wylys to evade the securities laws," said Lorin L. Reisner, Deputy Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. "They used these structures to conceal hundreds of millions of dollars of gains in violation of the disclosure requirements for corporate insiders."