A former Ernst & Young business development director agreed to pay $23,900 to settle charges levied by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) he engaged in insider trading.
Michael Weiss had access to his clients’ confidential and sensitive business information while working for the Big Four firm, according to the SEC’s complaint, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
On four occasions, after learning about pending acquisitions, prospective business strategies, and financial projections concerning four of his client companies, Weiss purchased shares of those companies’ respective stocks, the SEC said. His alleged misconduct occurred between July 2014 and September 2015.
Weiss perpetrated his scheme “for his personal gain and in violation of the duty he owed to both EY and EY client companies,” the agency said.
Weiss signed annual affirmations “indicating that he carefully read, understood, and agreed to comply with EY’s global code of conduct and insider trading global policies, among others, as a condition of his employment,” the SEC noted.
Weiss was a business development director at EY from August 2003 until January 2021. He worked on more than 50 pursuits of audit and nonaudit business opportunities involving EY clients and prospective clients during that time, the SEC said.
The four client companies Weiss allegedly purchased stock in included a global packaging business, a personal finance company, a multinational investment bank, and a freight transportation company.
In June 2014, Weiss learned the global packaging company planned to relocate its headquarters. Before the market opened on July 23, 2014, he purchased 5,000 shares of the company’s stock, according to the SEC.
On Aug. 18, 2014, Weiss sold all 5,000 of the company’s shares for a profit of $3,113. He didn’t report the trades to EY, the SEC said.
Weiss made profits of $10,286 from his illicit trades of stock from the four companies, the agency found. He violated the antifraud provisions of the Securities Exchange Act, the SEC alleged.
Weiss “knew or was reckless in not knowing” executing trades for personal gain based on insider information he had gained through his position at EY was a breach of the duty, trust, and confidence he owed to the firm and the client companies, the SEC said.
Weiss will pay $10,286 in restitution, $10,286 as a penalty, and $3,328 in interest.
“We have no comment further to the complaint and judgment filed (Wednesday),” an EY spokesman said in an emailed comment. “It is worth noting, as the complaint states, we ‘determined defendant violated several EY policies.’ His employment was terminated in 2021.”
The settlement is subject to court approval, the SEC noted.