Julia Irvine 8 Aug 2019 11:42am

Ex KPMG partner banned over insider trading

A former KPMG US partner accused of insider trading is to pay the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) $125,000 (£102,771) in a final judgment that will also see him banned for life from practising as a listed company accountant or auditor

Thomas Avent Jr agreed to the final judgment without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations. He had been accused of passing on highly confidential, non-public information to his stockbroker about three potential acquisitions of publicly-traded companies.

Avent had been a tax partner at KPMG since 1999 and led a practice group that performed tax due diligence on companies involved in mergers and acquisitions. The SEC alleged that he tipped off his stockbroker, Raymond Pirrello, about the three upcoming acquisitions in 2011 and 2012.

The three deals were NCR’s purchase of Radiant Systems and TBC’s acquisition of Midas in 2011 and Ingram Micro’s acquisition of BrightPoint in 2012.

Pirrello then passed the tips on to a former colleague and long-time friend, Lawrence Penna, who bought the stocks or call options before the acquisitions were announced. As a result, Penna and his family made more than $111,000 in insider-trading profits.

According to the SEC, Penna made payments totalling $21,500 to Pirrello’s American Express card bill shortly after two of the acquisitions. Pirrello, meanwhile, allegedly provided Avent with financial benefits, including $50,000 in cash, for his tips.

Avent was charged with insider dealing in 2016 and was placed immediately on administrative leave by KPMG. He left shortly afterwards.

Pirrello is currently in court defending himself against insider-dealing charges and Avent has agreed to testify against him. Penna settled the charges against him in 2016.