In the 1983 film "The Big Chill," the character played by Kevin Kline went jogging with William Hurt and told him his Running Dog sneaker company was going public.
- Andrew Leckey
Jan. 13: Bond backer may see its troubles grow exponentially
Jan. 6: Battle of the formats: Winners are elusive
IN THIS PACKAGE
- Ignored sectors need tending to stay in balance
- Road to financial success begins before college
- Old-fashioned check scams popular in a high-tech age
- Hunt for income stream can be risky business
- The savings game
- The Leckey file
- Getting started
- Spending smart
- Can they do that?
- Taking stock
- The week ahead
- Stock Broking
- Insider Trading
- Companies and Corporations
See more topics »
More recently, insider trading provided real-life drama with Martha Stewart. She, however, was found guilty of four counts of obstructing justice and lying to investigators about her well-timed ImClone Systems Inc. stock sale in 2001, not for insider trading on the sale itself.
Some argued that she should not go to prison because it was not a big enough transgression to send an admired person to the pokey. Her renewed success as a free woman indicates her ability to recover.
With mergers and acquisitions activity running fast and furious, it is no surprise some funny business is back. Stocks and options are taking off just before deals are announced. Insider trading is on the agenda of the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors, just as in the 1980s.
The SEC has charged a Credit Suisse investment banker with illegally divulging information about the $32 billion leveraged buyout of TXU Corp., allegedly resulting in approximately $5.4 million in illegal profits. The SEC contends a banker in Pakistan was tipped off.
Allegations involving media companies similarly stretch across continents, with Thomson Corp.'s takeover approach toward Reuters Group PLC and Rupert Murdoch's offer for Dow Jones & Co. each undergoing scrutiny for possible insider-trading violations.
Insider trading has become a priority because it undermines investor confidence in the fairness and integrity of securities markets. While investors may shrug off the Stewart incident as trivial, they would not consider it unimportant if they felt they never had a fair chance against people in the know.
Legal insider trading occurs when corporate insiders such as officers and directors buy and sell stock in their own companies and report trades to the SEC. Illegal insider trading is buying or selling while in possession of important, non-public information. Violations can include either tipping the information or acting upon it.
Movies made since the silent era have depicted daring, lucrative bank robberies. Expect insider trading to return to the silver screen as part of the nation's ongoing infatuation with criminal acts involving big money. There's talk that Twentieth Century Fox will film a sequel to "Wall Street" that revives the corporate raider Gordon Gekko character that Douglas played in the original movie.
We can be sure film companies will find many new plot lines to choose from in the antics of 2007.
Andrew Leckey is a Tribune Media Services columnist.