The SEC charged the chairman and CEO of a Santa Ana, Calif.-based computer storage device company with insider trading in a secondary offering of his stock shares with knowledge of confidential information that a major customer’s demand for one of its most profitable products was turning out to be less than expected.
The SEC alleges that Manouchehr Moshayedi sought to take advantage of a dramatically upward trend in the stock price of STEC Inc. by deciding to sell a significant portion of his stock holdings as well as shares owned by his brother, a company co-founder. The secondary offering was set to coincide with the release of the company’s financial results for the second quarter of 2009 and its revenue guidance for the third quarter. However, in the days leading up to the secondary offering, Moshayedi learned critical nonpublic information that was likely to have a detrimental impact on the stock price. Moshayedi did not call off the offering and abstain from selling his shares once he possessed the negative information unbeknownst to the investing public. Instead, he engaged in a fraudulent scheme to hide the truth through a secret side deal, and proceeded with the sale of 9 million shares from which he and his brother reaped gross proceeds of approximately $134 million each.