Aussie analyst faces 20 years' jail

Last updated 14:16 28/12/2012

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An Australian financial analyst could face up to 20 years in a US jail for allegedly pocketing US$7600 ($9261) in an insider trading scheme.

Federal prosecutors charged Trent Martin, who worked at a Connecticut brokerage firm, for purchasing shares of takeover target SPSS before IBM agreed to the US$1.2 billion deal in 2009.

Martin, 33, was also charged with passing the information to others, including his roommate.

The securities fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of US$5 million.

On November 29, the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged two former stockbrokers, including Martin's roommate, for their roles in the alleged insider trading scheme.

The two men have pleaded not guilty.

The three and others made more than US$1m by trading ahead of the acquisition, prosecutors said.

Martin was specifically named as the source of the information in instant messages between the two brokers, Thomas Conradt and David Weishaus, authorities said.

Martin allegedly received the information from a corporate lawyer who was part of IBM's legal team, including the fact that IBM was going to acquire SPSS for a significant premium over SPSS's market price.

The information was shared in confidence, and the lawyer - a close friend - expected that Martin would not share the information or use it to trade.

In a July 2009 message, referring to Martin by name, Conradt wrote: "holy f*** ... god trent told me not to tell anyone ... big mistake," according to the indictment unsealed on Wednesday.

Weishaus responded, "eh, we'll get rich".

Martin was arrested on December 22 in Hong Kong, the Justice Department said. Martin could not immediately be reached for comment.

The SEC, which filed related civil charges against Martin on Wednesday, said he fled the US to Australia soon after learning about its investigation.

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- Reuters

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