The SEC Monday announced a settlement with a Brooklyn man who allegedly ate the evidence he had on Post-it notes and napkins in a $5.6 million insider trading scheme carried out in Grand Central Terminal in New York.
Frank Tamayo acted as a middleman between a Morgan Stanley stockbroker and a law firm clerk by passing insider information, the SEC said. Tamayo has to give up $1 million in ill-gotten gains under the agreement, but he will not face further monetary punishment from the SEC or in a criminal case that is pending against him.
According to the SEC, Tamayo passed information about the acquisition of different companies that he got from the law firm clerk to the stockbroker, who would then make trades for Tamayo, himself and clients. The information was frequently written on napkins and Post-it notes, which Tamayo would show the stockbroker when they met under the clock at the information booth at Grand Central Terminal, the SEC, adding that he would then eat the notes.
Tamayo has cooperated in the investigation, the SEC said.
The SEC in March 2014 filed a complaint against the stockbroker, Vladimir Eydelman of Colts Neck, N.J., and against the law firm clerk, Steven Metro of Katonah, N.Y. The SEC is seeking disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, financial penalties and injunctions against them. The U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey also filed criminal charges in the case.
The scheme was specifically created to try to avoid detection by keeping Eydelman, who was Tamayo's stockbroker, and Metro apart, the SEC said. For five years, Tamayo would meet Metro in New York City bars and restaurants and find out what business acquisitions were pending that would affect stock prices.
He would then pass this information to his stockbroker by meeting near the clock in Grand Central. Eydelman would return to his office and do research on the company involved and e-mail Tamayo, advising him to buy the stock. The e-mails set up a trail to look like a legitimate trade, the SEC said.
Tamayo reserved some of his profit to pay Metro.
“As the middleman, Tamayo was the firewall between Metro and Eydelman. Metro had the information, Eydelman did the trading, and Tamayo kept them apart,” said Robert Cohen, co-deputy chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit. “But they were wrong in believing that this would stop the SEC from detecting their scheme.”