(Reuters) — The SEC charged 9 new defendants in what it has called a more than $100 million international scheme to hack into newswires that distribute corporate press releases and to use stolen information to conduct insider trading.
According to a complaint filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey, 5 traders and 4 companies they own made more than $19.5 million in illegal profits by trading in such companies as Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE:EW) and Align Technology (NSDQ:ALGN).
The SEC said the trades were based on inside information provided by Oleksandr Ieremenko and Ivan Turchynov, 2 hackers from Ukraine, who stole more than 100,000 news releases for publicly traded companies before they were issued to the public.
The thefts, which occurred from 2010 to 2014, included information about quarterly results, the SEC said.
Nine defendants, including Ieremenko and Turchynov, have been charged criminally in Newark or in New York’s Brooklyn borough by the U.S. Justice Dept. over the alleged hackings. Two of the other defendants have entered guilty pleas, including Georgia-based real estate developer Alexander Garkusha, the 1st defendant to admit culpability..
At least 42 defendants, including traders in several other countries, now face SEC civil charges over the alleged scheme, court papers show.
Contact information for lawyers for the 9 new defendants was not immediately available. The individual defendants are Natalia Andreevna Alepko, Andrey Bokarev, Anton Maslov, Radion Panko and Evegenii Zavodchiko. Their companies are located in Belize, Dominica, Panama and the Seychelles, the SEC said.
Authorities have said the hacked newswires include BusinessWire, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway; PR Newswire, a unit of UBM Plc being sold to Chicago-based Cision; and Marketwired, which is being sold to Nasdaq Inc. None was accused of wrongdoing.