back to article Now the US DoJ has charged Apple's insider trading lawyer with, er... well, it's embarrassing

Apple's head of corporate law, Gene Levoff, has been indicted on charges of (PDF) insider trading. According to statement from Department of Justice prosecutors, Levoff is alleged to have used his position as a senior Apple attorney to illegally trade shares ahead of Apple's quarterly results announcements over five years. He …

  1. Oengus Silver badge
    Headmaster

    When will they get it right

    The statement also notes that these are just accusations and that Levoff should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

    This is not a presumption of innocence. It is a presumption of guilt that just needs to be proven (probably in a court of law).

    The statement also notes that these are just accusations and that Levoff should be considered innocent until UNLESS proven guilty. FTFY

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a muppet.

    When you're talking pennies on the dollar losses or gains based on the results, what is the point?

    "Oh noes, I can only get $9.5million now instead of $10million".

    In return for this stupid risk you can lose everything and go to jail.

    Or just don't be greedy.

    1. deive

      Re: What a muppet.

      Yeah, it's not like lawers are payed peanuts at the best of times, and when you are a lawer and board memeber of Apple how much was he making??

      What a gready idiot.

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: What a muppet.

        Lawyer, Paid, Member and Greedy.

        MY EYES!!!

        1. IT's getting kinda boring
          Joke

          Re: What a muppet.

          How do you know he wasn't using an Apple butterfly keyboard?

    2. Dinanziame

      Re: What a muppet.

      What surprises me the most is that he thought he would get away with it. Especially in his position, he should have known there are checks for this type of things...

      1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

        Re: What a muppet.

        Of course perpetrators of this crime regularly get caught, but I'm smarter than that!

        -Every fraudster ever

  3. AIBailey Silver badge

    Driven by nothing more than greed.

    If you're in the position where you can afford to have $10M tied up in shares anyway, you're generally living a pretty good lifestyle.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      But that's exactly what brought us to the current economical and political situations "Oh gosh, I've just made 15 millions this year when I could have done 18! I have to find new stupid and maybe illegal ways to earn more or I'll be bankrupt in a few centuries! I don't want to become like those people who have to fly an airline plane to Seychelles instead of a private one!"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @LDS - There are no illegal way to earn more

        unless, of course, you get caught.

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Tying your own noose...

    "Securities fraud counts carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine. The wire fraud counts carry a maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the gain derived from or loss caused by the offense."

    Yes, but because he's a rich white man no doubt it'll be a $10 fine with no requirement to admit any wrongdoing right?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Tying your own noose...

      Good luck finding a jury without a built in dislike for rich corporate lawyers.

      1. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

        Re: Tying your own noose...

        He'll just buy everyone a new shiny iPhone....

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Tying your own noose...

          He'll just buy everyone a new shiny iPhone....

          Ugh!!! *DEFINITELY* guilty!!!

    2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: Tying your own noose...

      Martha Stewart is rich, blonde, and was not bad looking. But she did jail time simply for lying to the feds about insider trading. The guy who tipped her off, and did some insider trading of his own was rich, white, and male, and did more time.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Tying your own noose...

        She was a small time criminal as far as the amounts involved just like this Apple lawyer. But was a billionaire so had even less reason to do it.

        I know "greed" is an easy answer, but I think to her it was just like reaching down onto a dirty bar floor to pick up a fiver is to us. We don't NEED that fiver, and it is beer soaked and muddy so we might regret having done it but our fingers are already dirty so might as well keep it. I doubt it ever occurred to her that she could actually go to jail, that happened to other people.

        This Apple lawyer doesn't have that excuse, given his responsibilities at Apple as far as insider trading. No doubt he thought he was smarter than everyone else, and since he knew what to look for to detect insider trading at Apple he figured "I just have to avoid those red flags I look for and I'll skate past those dimwits at the SEC!" Oops...

    3. holmegm Bronze badge

      Re: Tying your own noose...

      Have you ever been near a real courtroom? There *is* a revolving door, but it ain't for the rich white guys ...

    4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Tying your own noose...

      This type of crime often results in relatively harsh sentences because no one likes the greedy scum if they are convicted.

  5. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    And this is why company officers should not be allowed to own their company stock.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      I think stock as remuneration is ok as long as they can't sell it until a few years after they leave.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        the term you're looking for is Blind Trust. That trust manages the stock for you giving only quarterly statements, an you have no control over their buy/sell decisions or timing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          That trust manages the stock for you himself, giving only quarterly reassuring statements until the last one, saying that the money is definitively gone ("Sorry, we'll do a better job next time")...

          A "trust" is a device for giving people your money so they can use it to make a profit for themselves. The name is meant sarcastically.

          /rant

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      From the company's point of view there's a lot to be said for employees holding stock as opposed to trading in it. It gives them an incentive. From the employees' PoV it's not so good; if the manglement runs the business down the tubes they lose their jobs and their savings.

      1. swm Bronze badge

        As an employee I would always sell company stock at the earliest opportunity. If the company does well I don't need the stock - myjob will pay enough. If the company doesn't do well I surely don't want to be invested in them.

        Many people at Xerox lost 90% of their retirement by not following this principle.

        1. Sherrie Ludwig
          Mushroom

          Reply Icon

          "As an employee I would always sell company stock at the earliest opportunity. If the company does well I don't need the stock - myjob will pay enough. If the company doesn't do well I surely don't want to be invested in them.

          Many people at Xerox lost 90% of their retirement by not following this principle."

          One word: Enron.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          I hold on to mine until I have a good reason to sell it, because it pays dividends. But I always treat it as a high-risk investment that could disappear at any time; I don't depend on it for anything. I certainly don't consider it part of my retirement savings.

          And, of course, in the US, it's advantageous to hold stock for at least a year if its value is increasing, in order to pay the smaller long-term capital gains tax.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      You WANT officers to own stock. Then they have skin in the game, but not the kind (i.e. earnings targets for bonuses) that cause short term quarter to quarter thinking. My first "real job" was at a company where every 2-5 quarters they'd have simply AWFUL numbers. Basically upper management would save up a bunch of writeoffs for bad debt, failed projects and so on for a quarter when the numbers weren't looking too good anyway and wouldn't hit their bonus targets. That way those writeoffs wouldn't impact them in the better quarters when they'd collect their bonuses that were 2-3x their salary for the quarter. If that bad quarter was the last quarter of the year it would be good for you if you were in the employee stock purchase program, otherwise you'd be buying stock at an inflated price!

      If officers own a fair amount of company stock, and it is restricted as far as how long they have to hold onto it before they can sell (which is something Apple does for stock awards for execs) then they have incentive for more long term thinking - a short term thinking strategy like laying off all the most experienced/expensive people or cutting R&D to the bone that boost short term profits but kill the company 2-3 years down the road isn't desirable to them because it would hurt their bottom line. What stops an exec who owns no company stock from thinking those are good ideas - especially if his compensation is bonus based depending on quarterly or yearly earnings targets?

      1. jonathan keith Silver badge

        Do we really need any more evidence that all target-linked bonuses do is encourage Manglement to try gaming the system?

        Businesses (and public bodies) really need to stop using them. The fact is, of course, that only legislation will force the corporate troughers to kill their golden egg-laying geese, and that will happen at the same time the Red Arrows trade in their Hawks for Gloucestershire Old Spots.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          The problem is that boards are mostly made up of execs or former execs, and choose compensation committees of similar makeup.

          You choose the compensation plan for your cohorts that you would want them to choose for you - that is, something with clear short term goals that are easy to meet. You don't want someone awarding you stock that you don't get for five years, which can be clawed back if the company subsequently performs poorly. And that's what you'll get from others if you make them live by that.

          The only solution is to require shareholders propose and approve compensation models, and to treat companies that use short term goals that are easy to manipulate with the sort of suspicion that says "sell sell sell that stock, and instead buy the stock of companies with better exec compensation plans".

  6. NanoMeter

    The Key, The secret

    Ah ha. An Urban Cookie Collective reference.

    1. TheGhostDeejay

      Re: The Key, The secret

      @NanoMeter

      Totally off topic, but thanks for the earworm.

      Cheers… Ishy

  7. ShadowDragon8685

    You know, as much as I hate rich greedy corporate raiders and most lawyers and especially rich greedy corporate lawyer-raiders, am I the only one who thinks two decades for a financial crime that arguably has no real victim (nobody is actually in the poorhouse because this guy cheated at stocks,) is beyond excessive compared to, I dunno, affray occasioning a person permanent disability, or corporate misdeeds that cost people their health and livelihoods?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      I think most US prison sentences are excessive. Legislatures like to increase them in order to look "tough on crime", and prosecutors like to use them as leverage for plea deals, one of several major sources of injustice in US criminal prosecution today.

      That said, there was a major shift in US Federal prosecutions after 9/11 away from white-collar crime like this toward "terrorism", which was then broadly defined to "whatever the kleptocracy thinks it can make the most money from". I'd rather see the DoJ chasing white-collar criminals than imaginary ones.

    2. jonathan keith Silver badge

      The stock market is a zero-sum game, so any money made by A must come from ¬A. Huge quantites of blue chip stock is owned by so-called 'institutional investors'... otherwise know as pension companies.

      So if you have any sort of pension scheme, it's a racing certainty that this rich greedy corporate lawyer-raider tried to steal from *you*, and make *your* pension worth less as a direct result.

      The financiers like to paint things like this as a 'victimless crime' because they would prefer that the general population continue to go about its usual everyday business, as opposed to protests, riots, civil disorder, lynchings etc. if the actual cost to 'us' of white-collar crime ever broke through the deafening background noise to become common knowledge.

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