Bankers and Lovers – Couple Charged with Taking Part in International Insider Trading Ring that Continues to Unfold
29 October 2019: Two London-based investment bankers have been charged in the US for taking part in a “large-scale, international insider-trading ring”, which continues to unfold.
The pair, who were bankers, colleagues and lovers, sold confidential information about upcoming corporate deals as part of an insider trading group that saw them reap millions of dollars in illicit profits. Between 2012 and 2018, the couple sold inside information about 22 companies. The intermediaries who purchased the information then passed the tips on to securities traders, including one in Switzerland, who leaked the information to a journalist and made $1m in the process.
The charges were unsealed on Monday against Benjamin Taylor and Darina Windsor, both employees of global investment banks. As well as being colleagues, the pair were involved in a romantic relationship and had nicknames for each other such as “pops” and “popsy” in emails. The pair exchanged inside-information via cryptic messages, for example one email from October 2012 was entitled “Once upon a time, there was a Pops searching for Truffles in the Forest…” The email contained confirmation about Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc, which was acquired in 2013 for $8.5bn by Amgen.
The pair also used encrypted messaging apps and unregistered phones to communicate and arrange meetings. Windsor had created a spreadsheet that forecast how the proceeds of the illicit activities would be split.
It is thought that, as well as making profits in cash, the pair also received rewards in the form of trips abroad, watches, clothes and other luxuries. A further person, a securities trader named Joseph El-Khouri, has since been arrested by UK police on charges that he allegedly traded on the inside information provided by the couple. The charges are part of a larger Federal probe into investors across Europe and the Middle East who may be involved in similar activities. It is anticipated that more is to come.