Badin Rungruangnavarat was very lucky. He invested a bunch of cash from May 21 to May 28. When the market closed on May 29 he had unrealized gains of over $3 million and had achieved a return in excess of 3000%. Now he is unlucky because the Securities and Exchange Commission froze his investment gain and labeled it the illegal fruits of insider trading.
Badin had put all of his money into derivatives based on the stock price of Smithfield Foods, Inc. On May 29, there was a public announcement that Shanghui International Holdings had agreed to acquire Smithfield. As you might expect, Shangui paid a premium on the traded stock price.
So maybe Badin wasn’t lucky. Maybe he had some material non-public information and was illegally trading on that information.
Badin opened the account at Interactive Brokers on May 10. Badin deposited $920,000 and only traded in Smithfield derivatives. All of the call options he purchased were out of the money. He purchased 80% of Smithfield’s options for the month of May. Through those derivatives, he controlled roughly 25% of the average daily volume of Smithfield’s stock.
The facts stink of insider trading. What’s missing is the inside information.
The SEC turned to Facebook to identify the source of insider information. (It looks like the SEC does not ban access to Facebook.) In the complaint, the SEC states that Badin has a Facebook friend who is an associate director at the investment bank that advised another bidder for Smithfield. That may not be the source, but at least it something for the SEC to grab a hold of in hopes of making its case.
This is at least the third time that Interactive Brokers has flagged an account for insider trading. See Zhongpin and Potash. The firm’s compliance surveillance seems to working for these egregious cases.
- SEC Freezes Assets of Thailand-Based Trader for Insider Trading Ahead of Smithfield Foods Acquisition Announcement
- SEC Complaint (.pdf)
- SEC Sues Rungruangnavarat for Insider Trading in Smithfield Foods Acquisition by David Smyth in Cady Bar the Door
Red flags by Rutger van Waveren CC BY ND