A Ukrainian national who traded on insider information he obtained by hacking into a secure computer network was ordered by a U.S. judge to forfeit $580,000 in profits, interest and civil penalties, U.S. securities regulators said on Monday.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had accused Oleksandr Dorozhko of gaining access to material nonpublic information about IMS Health Inc's third-quarter 2007 earnings by infiltrating the computer network of Thomson Financial. IMS had planned to announce negative earnings after the market closed that day.
Minutes after the hack and just before IMS's earnings release, Dorozhko purchased 630 put options on IMS's common stock, the SEC said in a statement.
A put option is a contract that gives the buyer the right to sell an agreed amount of a security by a specified date for a certain price.
After IMS's stock dropped a record 28 percent the next day, Dorozhko sold the put options and pocketed $287,346, the SEC said.
U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald originally denied the SEC's motion for a preliminary injunction against Dorozhko. She ruled that hacking and trading was not a violation of the relevant federal securities law because Dorozhko did not breach a fiduciary duty in connection with the purchase or sale of a security.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed that, finding that computer hacking may be deceptive even when the hacker did not breach a fiduciary duty.
As computer hackers like Dorozhko try to illegally gain a market advantage using technological skills, the Second Circuit's welcome ruling clarifies that this behavior is illegal, Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC's enforcement division, said in statement.
(Reporting by Dan Margolies)