Former Wells Fargo Chairman and CEO John Stumpf sold $61 million worth of Wells Fargo (WFC) shares in the month prior to settling a long-running investigation that charged the bank with falsifying millions of customer accounts to boost sales and fees.
The following month, when regulators announced on Sept. 8 that they’d fined Wells Fargo $185 million for falsifying more than 2 million customer accounts to meet aggressive sales goals, the company’s stock price plunged and Stumpf was called on the carpet before Congress before finally resigning this week.
Stumpf pocketed $26 million in proceeds from that August sale — the shares in question were “incentive stock options” purchased at a discount to Wells Fargo’s current market price and then immediately sold at a profit — reflecting a small piece of the rich incentive pay that Stumpf collected during his tenure at the top of the bank.
However, the sale also raises a red flag of potential violation of insider trading rules that prohibit company insiders from profiting on stock purchases and sales based on unpublished corporate information, said Chicago securities lawyer Andrew Stoltmann.
“At minimum, the optics are horrific for Stumpf and for Wells Fargo,” Stoltmann said. “I would be shocked if the Securities and Excgange Commission doesn’t look heavily into this.”
Bill Whitaker speaks with a former stock analyst who — after getting caught — became an informant in one of the biggest insider trading busts in U.S. history.
The following script is from “Inside Edge” which aired on May 22, 2016. Bill Whitaker is the correspondent. Deirdre Cohen and Sarah Koch, producers.
Insider trading is one of the hardest crimes to detect, it happens in whispers and phone calls, behind closed doors. But we’ve been given a rare look at how it actually works, through the experiences of one woman, a former stock analyst named Roomy Khan. She made a fortune in illegal profits — with inside information, that she and her colleagues called the edge: the inside edge — using company secrets to make winning investments in the market. But she got caught and became a government informant in one of the biggest insider trading busts in American history.
Clorox : U.S. investigating Icahn, Mickelson in insider trading probe
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating possible insider trading involving billionaire investor Carl Icahn, golfer Phil Mickelson and Las Vegas gambler William Walters, a source familiar with the matter said.
Federal investigators are looking into whether Mickelson and Walters may have traded illegally on private information provided by Icahn about his investments in public corporations, the source told Reuters, confirming a report by the Wall Street Journal on Friday.
Icahn, Mickelson and Walters were not immediately available for comment.