Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Corporate watchdog reveals more cases of insider trading

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission says there have been more breaches of insider trading in the past three years than in the entire preceding decade.

Listen to my interview with ASIC deputy chairman Belinda Gibson broadcast on this morning's edition of AM.

In the three years to December last year, ASIC won 11 convictions for insider trading, with another seven cases yet to be decided.

In the prior decade to 2008, ASIC won 10 insider trading cases and lost five.

In a sign of a rise in illegal trading, ASIC says it is receiving around 200 alerts a day in relation to suspicious trading activity regarding the use of privileged information unavailable to the general market.

ASIC deputy chairman Belinda Gibson told AM and ABC News 24that the rise in prosecutions can be put down to greater surveillance by the regulator and in some cases greater temptations for investors.

"We're much better at looking for those cases and prosecuting them. What we have done since 2008 is really focus on the integrity of the markets and focus on detecting bad conduct and bringing the perpetrators to account," Ms Gibson said.

"I think that there is more opportunity as the market deepens. There is more opportunity where transactions become more sophisticated and more of the people we call gatekeepers have access to otherwise confidential information.

"Many of the cases we've brought are against employees of gatekeepers who are seeing other people's information and trading on it. are accountants, There are the investment advisors, there are the stock market registry providers - all those people that are intermediaries in bringing a corporation to the market."

Ms Gibson refused to rule out the use of telephone taps to trap insider traders under new powers given to the corporate watchdog in 2010.

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