A U.K. appeals court upheld five insider trading convictions against a former compliance officer at investment bank UBS.
The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) released its decision Wednesday.
Fabiana Abdel-Malek, a former senior compliance officer at UBS, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2019 but had not completed the sentence while the appeal process proceeded. In addition, the court upheld the convictions against her coconspirator, Walid Choucair, who was also sentenced to three years in prison.
“They are now required to surrender to custody to serve the remainder of their sentences,” the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said in a press release.
According to the FCA, Abdel-Malek used her position at UBS to identify inside information on UBS’s compliance system regarding mergers and acquisitions—in particular how the deals would affect the stock prices of the companies involved. She passed that information to Choucair, her family friend and experienced day trader of financial securities. Abdel-Malek repeatedly accessed inside information, across several transactions, over a sustained period, the FCA said.
Choucair made a profit of approximately £1.4 million (U.S. $1.9 million) from the trading, the FCA said.
“I welcome the Court’s decision to dismiss these appeals as well as the Court’s finding that there was no irregularity or unfairness in the proceedings,” said Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, in a statement. “The appeal was an attempt to undermine the jury’s verdict by collaterally attacking the FCA. Today’s decision by the Court vindicates the FCA’s decision making in this matter.”
In the appeal, the court said Abdel-Malek’s defense was that she did not hand over information to Choucair and, even if she did, she did not financially benefit. She also argued several “burner” phones she had on which she communicated with Choucair and in which she regularly changed the SIM cards was not relevant.
The court said the prosecution had proven that Abdel-Malek’s motive was a desire to please Choucair and that Choucair had “flattered and groomed” her into providing him with valuable information by taking her and her friends to exclusive clubs in London.
“This was … a powerful case which in reality called for an explanation from each of the appellants at trial. They gave their explanations over many days of oral evidence. The jury, having evaluated their evidence, did not believe them. The jury were made sure, on all the evidence, that the counts of insider trading on the indictment had been proved,” the appeals court said.