The Securities and Exchange Commission is charging a senior Microsoft manager with insider trading. Brian Jorgenson, a senior portfolio manager at Microsoft, has admitted he tipped his friend, Sean Stokke, about Microsoft’s Barnes & Noble deal, allowing him to make money on the stock market. In an interview with The Seattle Times, Jorgenson estimates Stokke, his friend, made more than $200,000 and Jorgenson pocketed $40,000 for the information. "Abusing access to Microsoft’s confidential information and generating unlawful trading profits is not a wise or legal business model for starting a hedge fund," says SEC spokesperson Daniel Hawke. "We thwarted the misguided plans of Jorgenson and Stokke as they sought to illegally profit at others’ expense."
The pair made nearly $400,000 in profit
The SEC complaint alleges that Jorgenson and Stokke made a combined $393,125 in profits from their insider trading, which began in April last year. While Jorgenson tipped Stokke to the Barnes & Noble deal, he also allegedly helped Stokke trade in advance of Microsoft’s Q4 earnings report in July. Stokke purchased Microsoft options, allowing the pair to generate $195,000 in profits after Microsoft’s stock price dropped by 11 percent following its financial results. Stokke once again traded Microsoft options for its latest financial results in October, pocketing around $13,000 in profit.
Jorgenson has admitted to The Seattle Times that greed drove him to leak the information to Stokke. The pair had planned to use the money to finance their own hedge fund. Microsoft fired Jorgenson last month when the inside trading was discovered. "I am sorry," Jorgenson says. "It was just greed. I was focusing too much on the material things."
Update: In an email provided to The Verge, a Microsoft spokesperson says that "our company has zero tolerance for insider trading. We helped the government with its investigation and terminated the employee."