A London Southwark Crown Court jury on June 27 convicted two individuals—a senior compliance officer of UBS and a day trader of financial securities—and sentenced them to three years’ imprisonment for insider trading.
Fabiana Abdel-Malek was employed as a senior compliance officer by investment bank UBS in its London office and used her position to identify inside information, which she passed to her family friend, Walid Choucair, an experienced day trader of financial securities, using pay-as-you-go mobile telephones, according to the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority. Choucair made a profit of approximately £1.4 million (U.S. $1.77 million) from the trading.
The verdict ends a four-year investigation by the FCA. In September 2015, the FCA, assisted by the National Crime Agency, searched premises (both business and residential) connected to Abdel-Malek and Choucair. Both were arrested.
“Abdel-Malek dishonestly and surreptitiously acquired confidential and valuable information from her employer and passed it to Choucair, who made substantial illegal trading profits,” said Mark Steward, executive director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA. “Both defendants were well-aware they were committing serious criminal offences and engaged in elaborate schemes and lies to disguise what they were doing. This was not opportunistic but calculated and organized. It was insider dealing at its most venal.”
According to the FCA, Abdel-Malek’s compliance role at UBS covered investment banking, which meant she was trusted with access to price-sensitive information about potential mergers and acquisitions held within UBS on its compliance system. This system contained information about any proposed merger and acquisition transaction that UBS was either pitching for or working on.
Despite being aware of the restrictions on disclosing inside information, Abdel-Malek searched the compliance system and obtained inside information relating to the proposed takeovers of five companies. Abdel-Malek repeatedly accessed inside information, across several transactions, over a sustained period.
She created and printed documents containing inside information copied from the UBS compliance system. She then disclosed the inside information to Choucair, who traded in the shares of the targeted companies.