Maverick Capital's Wyly Not Guilty Of Insider Trading

Jul 14 2014 | 5:21am ET

Maverick Capital and Ranger Capital founder Sam Wyly may be guilty of improperly hiding stock trades—but he’s not an insider-trader, a judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin found that Wyly and his late brother, Charles, did not engage in insider-trading with a $40 million offshore swaps deal in 1999. The ruling comes two months after a jury found the Wylys liable for fraud in a case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC alleged that the Wylys used an “elaborate sham system” of offshore trusts to hide trades in four companies on whose boards they sat, including Sterling Software, the company at issue in the insider-trading allegation. Wyly said the trusts were used for legitimate tax purposes, but the jury sided with the SEC.

Not so this time: Scheindlin, after a one-day bench trial, found that the Wylys did nothing concrete about selling Sterling until after they had complete the trades. “While it is difficult to draw the line between inchoate desire and something more material, that line must be drawn somewhere,” she wrote.

Wyly is not through in New York federal court just yet: A second trial, to determine the penalty for the fraud, is scheduled for next month. The SEC is seeking more than $553 million.

“We have tried in good faith to resolve this case, but the government, to date, has been unrealistic and unreasonable in what it can expect to extract from the Wyly family,” Wyly’s lawyer, Stephen Sussman, said.

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