Danny McCance 11 Jul 2019 02:57pm

US accountant traded information for “extravagant gifts”

An accountant and her friend have been charged by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over an alleged insider trading scheme worth $6.2m (£4.9m)

The SEC alleges that certified public accountant Martha Patricia Bustos, who worked for technology company Illumina, provided her friend Donald Blakstad with information related to four of the company’s quarterly performance reviews.

Bustos traded the information, related to reviews between April 2016 and July 2018, in exchange for all-expenses paid trips and other “extravagant gifts”, according to the watchdog.

Blakstad used this information to purchase Illumina securities and covered up his involvement by using accounts held by business associates.

The SEC claims that Blakstad personally gained $4m from the scheme while information he provided to associates generated a further $2.2m in profits.

Kelly Gibson, associate director of the SEC Philadelphia regional office, said that the watchdog utilised advanced software to analyse trading data alongside “traditional investigative techniques” in order to “expose the betrayal of trust” alleged by the SEC.