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He hates to lose
November 19, 2008 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Dallas Mavericks owner, celebrity dancer, Dairy Queen manager, and bloviating billionaire Mark Cuban has been accused of insider trading. In its complaint, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused Cuban of selling his entire stake in Momma.com (since renamed) to avoid a $750,000 loss in 2004. But not even the government has a gag big enough to cover Cuban's mouth. On his blog, Cuban says the SEC is picking on him and presented an excerpt of a deposition of Mamma.com's CEO. And Cuban would like you to believe that he's being politically persecuted for his support of the 9/11 conspiracy film, "Loose Change." Cuban's Magnolia Pictures, which redacted Redacted, was said to be interested in a distribution deal.
posted by up in the old hotel (42 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Also, the Mavs have a losing record.
posted by swift at 12:46 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's to hoping this means he won't be able to purchase the Cubs.
posted by billysumday at 12:46 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


What a dummy. Unless he had those sell orders entered long before the telephone call took place, Cuban is screwed. And he is going to be doubly screwed now that he's impugn the integrity of the career, non-political, SEC investigators and lawyers.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:58 PM on November 19, 2008


The Redacted trailer was a total yawner.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:59 PM on November 19, 2008


It's not what you know, it is who you know. He will be fine.
posted by Senator at 1:01 PM on November 19, 2008


billysumday - I was thinking the opposite, I hope this doesn't sour his shot at the Cubs. I'd love to see him shake up that tired old ballclub. In full SouthSide disclosure, I'm a lifelong Sox fan (although I've never been a Cubs hater). Cuban at the helm would at least make me pay a bit more attention to the Cubs.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:01 PM on November 19, 2008


"Dallas owner Mark Cuban's penalties, should he be convicted of insider trading, would be financial, not criminal such as those faced by Martha Stewart."*
posted by cashman at 1:04 PM on November 19, 2008


Yeah, he's dead to rights. This is like so textbook, textbook writers are hoping he takes it all the way so they can write about the case.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:04 PM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Senator, if Martha could do a year in jail for basically the same thing, so can Cuban. I'm sure it will just as comfy and safe as Martha's gig, but I think he's screwed.
posted by ShadowCrash at 1:06 PM on November 19, 2008


Doh! Looks like cashman invalidated my post.
Anyone know what the actual penalty he's facing?
posted by ShadowCrash at 1:07 PM on November 19, 2008


Martha Stewart was prosecuted for lying under oath, not insider trading. There was insufficient evidence for the original charge.
posted by gngstrMNKY at 1:15 PM on November 19, 2008


Senator, if Martha could do a year in jail for basically the same thing, so can Cuban. I'm sure it will just as comfy and safe as Martha's gig, but I think he's screwed.

There will be no criminal penalties. You can bet a declination letter has already been issued. Otherwise, the SEC won't touch the matter until the criminal aspect has played out.

Plus Martha was in trouble for covering it up.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:15 PM on November 19, 2008


[obvious maverick joke here]
posted by iamkimiam at 1:17 PM on November 19, 2008


Was disappointed when I read this yesterday. I've always found him likable and had really hoped he would buy the Phillies, until the current ownership delivered us a World Series. Now they have a free pass for life.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 1:20 PM on November 19, 2008


So what if I hear something I don't want to hear and it turns out I can act on that information to protect my interests?

"Your honor, I was covering my ears and crying the loudest La-La-La, but I could not help overhearing the words Sell Now. It was just a matter of time and research to find out what. So I did. Am I to blame?"
posted by Laotic at 1:29 PM on November 19, 2008


It already came out a week or more ago that Cuban wouldn't be buying the cubs. I doubt this would help anyway.
posted by puke & cry at 1:32 PM on November 19, 2008


I guess the Onion will have to post a correction to this story.
posted by oaf at 1:38 PM on November 19, 2008


I was wondering something similar, Laotic. When I heard this on NPR, it sounded like Cuban and Faure were bickering over the phone, and it was intimated that Faure dropped this in Cuban's lap in response to Cuban's threat to sell stock.
posted by boo_radley at 1:40 PM on November 19, 2008


"Dallas owner Mark Cuban's penalties, should he be convicted of insider trading, would be financial." -- posted by cashman

I can't decide whether this is a Yankees pun, or merely eponysterical.
posted by rokusan at 1:40 PM on November 19, 2008


With that ridiculous Jose Canseco wannabe hairstyle, I have to side with the prosecution.
posted by fenriq at 1:41 PM on November 19, 2008


It already came out a week or more ago that Cuban wouldn't be buying the cubs.

Yes.

The old boys' network of very protective MLB owners was very opposed to Cuban all along. It would have taken the equivalent of a hostile takeover to force his way in.
posted by rokusan at 1:42 PM on November 19, 2008


The Redacted trailer was a total yawner.

Only because they cut out the good parts.
posted by rokusan at 2:21 PM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm sittin' here thinkin' this is what happens when you fire Avery Johnson. Someone at the SEC was mighty pissed about that.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:22 PM on November 19, 2008


So what if I hear something I don't want to hear and it turns out I can act on that information to protect my interests?

Then you violate the insider trading laws. If an insider simply tells you to sell and you do, without even telling you why, you are still breaking the law.

Even Cuban's blog post incriminates him. The transcript relates that Faure told him "I have confidential information for you." That's it, game over. It's not about whether he made a deal with Faure to keep the information confidential or not. Even if the record showed conclusively that Cuban said "I don't agree to keep anything confidential--don't tell me anything" and Faure told him the info anyway, Cuban has the inside information. The fact that he then traded on it is what sinks him, not the particulars of the conversation. He isn't allowed to trade or protect his interests. As the largest shareholder what he should have done if he opposed the deal is go to the board and demand they stop it, call other shareholders and line them up behind him and force the board to comply. He can't just use that information to cover his ass.

Did you trade based on nonpublic information about the company regardless of how you came by it? If yes, you lose. It doesn't matter if your homeless and you found the info in a dumpster. No matter who you are, you cannot trade stock in a company if you have nonpublic information about that company that an investor would consider important.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:53 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


As an aside, this is why all hot stock tips are bullshit. "So and so company is going to do/annouce a new X." It's either factually wrong, the tipster's own speculation of what might happen presented as fact but without any facts to back it up, or it is factually correct based on inside information. Regardless of which case it is, you shouldn't trade on it.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:58 PM on November 19, 2008


Even if he's guilty, I'd be pounding the political persecution angle until the cows come home.

This dickweed Mr Jeffery Norris from the SEC should be charged as well. Charged with being a moron.

re: The 11th link of the FPP. That's his get-out-of-jail card rght there. http://norris.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/17/insider-trading-or-political-persecution/
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:59 PM on November 19, 2008


He also hates filtered news, if you watch HDNet:

Dan Rather Reports:

A Few Good Men, A Lot Of Bad Water - A former Marine Corps drill sergeant believes toxic chemicals in the water supply at Camp Lejeune, NC, led to the death of his daughter. Also, Nobel Prize winner economist Paul Krugman. And the new face of the Peace Corps.


Dan Rather Reports:

Conquering the Concrete - America's roads, parking lots and rooftops are a major source of pollution. Also, interracial adoption and how Houston desegregated.



Remember when 60 Minutes did stories like this?
posted by Zambrano at 3:00 PM on November 19, 2008


Couldn't happen to a nicer arsehole. Mav's get dumped out of the playoffs time after time, then start the new season with a (currently) .364 record (it should be worse -- damn my Knicks for rolling over in OT the other night) as CubeFace gets Matha'd.

This won't shut him up but it'll be fun to watch.
posted by i_cola at 3:13 PM on November 19, 2008


S. Exchange Commission Smokes Cuban Rolled On Yo Momma.com's Flabby Thighs
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:30 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


And Cuban would like you to believe that he's being politically persecuted for his support of the 9/11 conspiracy film

Oh, sweet irony. The people who peddle bullshit conspiracy films, blame bullshit conspiracies for when they get in trouble. I wonder if the truthers will begin seeing how much theyve been played.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:56 PM on November 19, 2008


Does anybody else flash on Milton the Monster when they see a picture of Cuban?
posted by joaquim at 4:06 PM on November 19, 2008


I didn't see it in the Times article, but from the Businessweek article:

According to the complaint, Cuban got angry and said that he didn’t like PIPEs because they were dilutive to existing shareholders’ stakes. “At the end of the call, Cuban told the CEO ‘Well, now I’m screwed. I can’t sell,’” the complaint alleges.

Seems like they might have a case here. Pretty silly that a multibillionaire would risk it for $750,000, though that's an unthinkable amount for us meager investors.

Thanks for the Iraq movies link. I didn't know anything about Bloomfield's. Seems very interesting.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:41 PM on November 19, 2008


Total garbage, this is just the Bush administration looking like they're trying to fight corruption in Wall Street. Martha Stewart was screwed over by the whole Enron scandal and they wanted to change the topic and look like they're doing something to someone that is a household name and they don't particularly like.

The amount of money here is utterly tiny, the insider information rumors that runs through trading desks daily is order of magnitudes larger, and in those cases, they're very blatant.

The real corruption here is the desire to change the topic and create some bullshit circus of a trial.
posted by amuseDetachment at 4:51 PM on November 19, 2008


Also, let's dig a little deeper here, the administration is clearly pissed that Mark Cuban just founded and funded an organization to investigate where all the bailout money is going and why they're hiding the information from U.S. taxpayers.
posted by amuseDetachment at 4:54 PM on November 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


SEC Law Blog, via footnoted.org,:

"The question becomes, can the CEO of a public company voluntarily provide material, non-public information to someone, and prevent that someone from trading? Is so, it is a great way to keep your largest shareholder from selling his stock - call him up and give him some inside information. He can't sell!"

A really good read.
posted by Izzmeister at 5:11 PM on November 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, sweet irony. The people who peddle bullshit conspiracy films, blame bullshit conspiracies for when they get in trouble.

That actually increases my appreciation for Cuban. Clearly his heart is pure.
posted by rokusan at 5:18 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


"The question becomes, can the CEO of a public company voluntarily provide material, non-public information to someone, and prevent that someone from trading? Is so, it is a great way to keep your largest shareholder from selling his stock - call him up and give him some inside information. He can't sell!"

What if he posted the non-public material on his blog? When does it become public information--is there a window it could be technically public but not sufficiently common knowledge that you still have time to dump the stock?
posted by stevis23 at 5:27 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


What if he posted the non-public material on his blog? When does it become public information--is there a window it could be technically public but not sufficiently common knowledge that you still have time to dump the stock?
posted by stevis23 at 8:27 PM on November 19


The law isn't that silly. The public disclosure requirement actually requires that there be sufficient time after the public notice for the public to digest the information before you can trade. You can't just hit the 'sell' button a second after the press release shows up on the wire. I think the typical time period is 48 hours. In the case of a blog, you'd probably have to wait even longer.

The SEC blog linked above does note the interesting legal angle, about a CEO being able to tie the hands of shareholders by leaking information to them, but I would think the CEO would be in violation of a number of confidentiality agreements and other SEC rules about sharing material information with outsiders.

But that is besides the point. The SEC really does not play games when it comes to insider trading. They investigated Martha Stewart originally for a $40k trade or thereabouts. They want everyone to know that no amount is small enough to avoid scrutiny.

The U.S. markets are trusted around the world primarily because of their transparency. Recall the shenanigans that Porsche was involved with when they sprung the news on Volkswagen short sellers that they secretly bought up a significant percentage of VW.

We can't have that here. It would mean that Jerry Yang's wife could have sold Yahoo stock when she learned her husband was being shitcanned. It would mean youtube's VC's could have bought tons of Google before the buyout. It would create a two tier class of investors with the majority of us, and our 401(k)s and mutual funds in the second tier getting screwed.

We cannot have this, especially now with what is going on in the market. Everyone should be following the rules to the letter, not bending them or testing their limits.

I don't know the first thing about the sports team he owns, (or the sport it plays for that matter), but for Cuban to say this is a political witch hunt is inane. If you think you are a political target of an administration that launched two wars, bankrupted the nation, and still managed to avoid indictment, you should be living a squeaky clean existence. Not messing around for $750k in a dopey search engine. How arrogant and stupid is this guy?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:16 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pastabagel: seriously? Are you trolling or something? The SEC somehow finds celebrities to convict whenever there's some kind of public crisis in the transparency of the markets, and that's right? They should be wasting their time convicting celebrities of insider information with really trivial amounts of money when there's much greater robberies of public money and international trust in our markets? Because Martha Stewart's tens of thousands of dollars is better than putting those resources into Enron, or the SEC officials currently investigating Cuban to work on our massive crisis.

How about the SEC investigates the PPT and the countless transparency issues raised on Mark Cuban's Bailout Sleuth, that would be a lot better for the public interest.

No, this is all a fucking sham.
posted by amuseDetachment at 8:33 PM on November 19, 2008


How arrogant and stupid is this guy?

A v.famous TV personality in Oz – Steve Vizard – recently got done for doing something similar. Just some piddly amount compared to his actual wealth. He was becoming quite the mover and shaker in political circles as well. He was an ex lawyer so he should have known better.

And you're reading the facts of the case and thinking "You stupid. Greedy. Arrogant. Fool. Why?" It's like some people live a life of privilege and lose touch with reality after a number of years.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:54 PM on November 19, 2008


mrgrimm,
The article you link to doesn't read like the CEO told Cuban to prevent him from selling. Here's a longer quote:
the CEO of the company reached out on June 28 to Cuban with an email entitled “Call me pls” that asked Cuban to call ASAP.

Mr. Cuban called four minutes later from the American Airlines Center in Dallas where the Mavericks play and the two spoke for eight minutes and thirty-five seconds. The CEO told Cuban that he had something to tell him in confidentiality, which the CEO says Cuban agreed to. The CEO then explained that the company was raising money through a PIPE and wanted to invite Cuban, as the single largest shareholder, to take part. According to the complaint, Cuban got angry and said that he didn’t like PIPEs because they were dilutive to existing shareholders’ stakes. “At the end of the call, Cuban told the CEO ‘Well, now I’m screwed. I can’t sell,’” the complaint alleges.
Nothing seems to indicate that Cuban wanted to dump the stock before he found out about the PIPE. In fact, the same article quotes Cuban's blog in 2005 saying:
Then the company did a PIPE financing. Im not going to discuss the good or bad of PIPE financing other than to say that to me its a huge red flag and I dont want to own stock in companies that use this method of financing . Why? Because I dont like the idea of selling in a private placement, stock for less than the market price, and then to make matters worse, pushing the price lower with the issuance of warrants.So I sold the stock.
So the CEO told Cuban about the PIPE because he's the company's biggest shareholder and they wanted him to buy in, instead Cuban dumped the stock to avoid losses. Seems pretty strong of a case IMO.

As for the posts about there being bigger fish to fry for the SEC, I agree, but can't we have both? Cuban dumped $7+ million of stock to avoid losses, that's definitely worthy of an investigation.
posted by ShadowCrash at 6:43 AM on November 20, 2008


Pastabagel: seriously? Are you trolling or something? The SEC somehow finds celebrities to convict whenever there's some kind of public crisis in the transparency of the markets, and that's right?

The SEC indicts and convicts people all the time. You only hear about the celebrities, and celebrities are usually the only ones arrogant enough to fight back in such a public, holier-than-thou fashion. So fuck Mark Cuban. I'd like to make a few bucks doing some insider trading of my own. If he can get away with it, why not me? Oh that's right, because I'm not famous and if I did that I'd disappear into prison forever.

The reason there is a public crisis is because of people like Cuban. People who think the rules don't apply to them. Yes they do. And the people at Enron were convicted, sentenced, and one of them ended up dead. The President of Tyco went to jail. So did the head of MCI Worldcom. Eliot Spitzer made a career indicting Wall Street firms. Steve Jobs was investigated for options backdating shenanigans. The SEC and market regulators are very busy.

But more to the point, you are confusing corruption with lawbreaking. It is perfectly legal for Goldman Sachs to lobby congress and their former CEO/Treasury Secretary for a bailout that will loan them billions. It is also corrupt.

These investigations take a long time. Even Cuban's open and shut case took a year. This crisis erupted only two months ago and everyone had sully lawyered up. The reason it was vitally important to get the AIG, Fannie, and Lehman guys testifying before congress immediately was to get them under oath and on the record, so that next year when the SEC finally gets through the last of the paper trail, they can use their own words against them. And unlike Cuban, the people who run those institutions are masters of covering their asses, so it will take longer. But it will happen.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:51 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


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