Brian Jorgenson, a senior portfolio manager, traded confidential company information with a friend, Sean T. Stokke, three times in 18 months. He was driven by greed, Jorgenson admitted to the Seattle Times. The SEC reported the duo accumulated $393,125 from the illicit trading.
The two aimed to make enough money to build their own hedge fund. The first information transacted was a $300 million Microsoft investment in Barnes and Noble's e-book reader and digital business.
The second and third trades of insider information was a lookahead to Microsoft's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings in July 2013 and first-quarter earnings in October 2013.
“Abusing access to Microsoft’s confidential information and generating unlawful trading profits is not a wise or legal business model for starting a hedge fund,” said Daniel M. Hawke, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit, in a statement.
His friend might have made close to $200,000, while Jorgenson retained nearly $40,000. Jorgenson worked at Microsoft for three years, making $130,000 annually. He told the Times that he struggled with the decision, with he and Stokkes convincing each other that it was doable. "I told myself, 'Members of Congress can do it.'"
The two are likely to face prison time, with a potential penalty up to 20 years in jail.