US Securities and Exchange Commission - VALIC

SEC Charges Family Friend of Former Investment Banker With Insider Trading

SECWashington D.C., Nov. 2, 2018 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged an IT professional in Texas who allegedly participated in an insider trading scheme perpetrated by a former Wall Street investment banker.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that Hamed Ettu, a family friend of the analyst Damilare Sonoiki, received illegal tips about nonpublic impending mergers as the two communicated in text messages using a Nigerian dialect to carry out their illicit trading.  The SEC previously charged Sonoiki and a professional football player, Mychal Kendricks, in the scheme.

Using allegedly misappropriated information, Ettu and Sonoiki made approximately $93,000 in illegal profits by using Ettu’s brokerage account to purchase the call options of companies that were about to be acquired and then selling these positions after the deals were announced.  In one instance, they generated returns of more than 318 percent in less than one month.

“As alleged in our complaint, Ettu actively participated in his friend’s scheme by opening a new brokerage account that the two men used to place illegal trades.  Although Ettu’s trades were much smaller than those of the professional football player, we were able to identify the overlap and trace the trades to a common inside source,” said Joseph G. Sansone, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit.

The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal district court in Philadelphia, charges Ettu with fraud and is seeking the return of his ill-gotten trading profits plus interest and penalties.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania today announced parallel criminal charges against Ettu.  Sonoiki and Kendricks have pled guilty to criminal charges.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, has been conducted by Rachael Clarke and Patrick McCluskey of the Market Abuse Unit in the Philadelphia Regional Office with assistance from John Rymas in the unit’s Analysis and Detection Center.  The litigation will be led by Jennifer Chun Barry.  The case has been supervised by Mr. Sansone and Kelly L. Gibson.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.