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by Mike Caswell
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice have filed charges against a New York trader and an Oregon retiree, claiming that they made $47-million through a "spectacularly profitable" front-running scheme. (All figures are in U.S. dollars.) The government says that the men traded ahead of large client orders, with their trades almost always producing a profit. The stocks the men traded included at least two Canadian listings, among them Vancouver's Lululemon Athletica Inc.
The allegations are contained in an indictment and parallel civil complaint filed on Wednesday, Dec. 14, in federal court in New York. The defendants are Lawrence Billimek, 51, a New York trader who has residences in several states, including Hawaii and Oregon. Also a defendant is Alan Williams, 77, a former trader who lives near Portland, Ore.
The case arises from a front-running scheme that the men ran, starting in 2016. Front-running involves trading ahead of large orders placed by brokerage clients. Such orders can temporarily increase the demand or supply for a stock, sending the share price up or down. According to the SEC, Mr. Billimek learned of the orders before they were placed, thanks to his job. He then passed the information on to Mr. Williams, who placed trades in those companies, the SEC says.
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