SEC Not Amused By Married Couples' Insider Trading Foibles

Seems as though the Securities and Exchange Commission has a little problem on their hands when it comes to husbands and wives revealing secret information to each other about companies' stock, and now their chief of the office of Internet enforcement, John Reed Stark, is on the case. See, even if your wife has a different last name, or you buy stock you're not supposed to be buying in your mother-in-law's name, or whatever, the SEC will probs figure it out. Bummer, right?

The exchanges all have monitoring programs, he said, that can detect even small trading that appears unusual. "Computers flag the trading," [a Georgetown law prof] said, "and if there is company news over the next few weeks or months, the trading will be deemed suspicious and the S.E.C. might start a preliminary investigation."
Eek! Scary! Basically, the best advice is to keep your damn mouth shut and not tell your spouse anything you think he or she might, oops, tell her brother?
Regulators have also filed cases against those who make no profit whatsoever.

Patricia B. Rocklage, the wife of the former chief executive of Cubist Inc., a Massachusetts biotechnology company, learned from her husband in 2001 that one of the company's drugs had failed a crucial clinical test. Although he admonished her not to disclose the news, prosecutors said she nonetheless told her brother, who in turn told a friend. Both sold their Cubist stock, avoiding losses when the price dropped after the public disclosure.

The S.E.C. sued; on Aug. 1, after protracted litigation, Mrs. Rocklage, her brother and the friend all agreed to settle.

Mrs. Rocklage could be liable for more than $300,000 in fines although she had not personally profited. The settlement awaits court approval.

"You can never be absolutely certain what happened between the husband and wife," Mr. Stark said, "whether it was a momentary lapse or a calculated conspiracy."

Actually, that would seem to apply to a lot of things that go down between a husband and wife, insider trading or no.

Rise in Insider-Trading Cases Shows the Perils of Pillow Talk [NYT]