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LA Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Inside Stock Info on Walt Disney Co. to Undercover FBI Agents

walt disney
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Yonni Sebbag won’t be going to Disney World any time soon. In fact, he’s probably going to a place far scarier.

On Monday, in New York, Yonni Sebbag, 30, of Los Angeles,  pleaded guilty to conspiring with his girlfriend to sell insider information about Walt Disney Co. stock, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said.

Authorities say that Sebbag’s girlfriend Bonnie Hoxie, an assistant to Disney’s corporate communications chief, obtained confidential information about the company and gave it to Sebbag to sell.

The couple sent out anonymous letters to more than  30 U.S. and European hedge funds and investment firms offering to sell the inside information, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. Many of the firms were based in New York.

Undercover FBI agents, posing as hedge fund traders, known as “tippees”, agreed to buy the information so they could trade in advance before the inside information was officially made public, authorities said.

On May 8, 2010, three days before the  public announcement of Disney’s earnings for the second quarter of 2010, Sebbag and Hoxie sent the agents a confidential document titled “The Walt Disney Company Q2 Fiscal 2010 Key Topics Speaking Points”, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. The document contained talking points  Disney executives planned to use while answering analysts’ questions during the May 11, 2010, earnings call.

Additionally, on May 11, about two hours before the public announcement, the couple told the agents that Disney’s earnings would be 48 cent– exceeding stock analysts forecasts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

On May 14, two undercover agents met with Sebbag and gave him $15,000. Sebbag then agreed to provide additional information in the future in exchange for a 30 percent cut of profits made from insider trading.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 16.

“Yonni Sebbag attempted to steal valuable information from the Walt Disney Company, a place known for having fun, and will now spend his next vacation as a convicted felon,”  Janice K. Fedarcyk, head of the New York FBI said in a statement. ” Stealing corporate information is a serious crime and affects the entire country.”


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