December 1, 2021

Swiss national faces insider trading charges for integral role in two international trading schemes

 On November 30, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Swiss national Marc Demane Debih, with insider trading for his role as central figure in at least two international insider trading schemes. The SEC reports that Debih, who generated approximately $49 million in profits from the schemes, is the eighth person that the SEC has charged in connection with the schemes.  

According to the SEC’s complaint, Debih engaged in the first scheme between 2012 and 2015 during which time he traded in securities after receiving illegal tips from former London investment bankers Benjamin Taylor and Darina Windsor who misappropriated material nonpublic information from their respective employers in exchange for cash payments from Debih. In addition to placing illegal trades, Debih allegedly shared the tips with his friend George Nikas in exchange for a share of Nikas’s illegal profits.  The SEC alleges that Dibah’s second scheme, that ran from 2015 to 2017, involved tips received from former US investment banker Bryan Cohen who allegedly misappropriated material nonpublic information from his employer regarding certain impending corporate transactions, in exchange for cash payments from Debih.  Debih allegedly used this sensitive information to place illegal securities trades and, on multiple occasions, shared the tips with Nikas who did the same.  

The SEC filed its complaint in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York charging Debih with violating the antifraud provisions of Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-3 thereunder.  The SEC reports that Debih has consented to the entry of a judgment that, pending the court’s approval, would permanently enjoin him from further violations of the charged provisions and impose civil penalties in an amount that would be decided by the court in a separate proceeding.

In January 2020, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filed a parallel action charging Dibih with multiple counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy.  Dibih, who pleaded guilty to securities fraud, is scheduled for sentencing on December 10, 2021.

In October of 2019, Taylor and Windsor were charged by the SEC with insider trading, and the US Attorney for Southern District of New York issued parallel criminals charges against them for their roles in the scheme; media sources report that both evaded extradition to the US and remain fugitives of the law.  In April of 2020, Cohen consented to the entry of a final judgment for his role in the scheme and agreed to pay $260,000 in disgorgement.  Cohen also pleaded guilty to securities fraud conspiracy, and, in June 2020, avoided prison when he was sentenced to one year of home detention and fined $25,000.  Nikas, who was also charged by the SEC in 2019 with insider trading as was well as parallel criminal charges, consented to the entry of a final judgment in December 2020 and agreed to pay a $5.3 million civil penalty.  

SEC Press Release | SEC Complaint – Debih | Unsealed Indictment – Debih | Sentencing Order – Debih | SEC Press Release – Taylor and Windsor (2019) | SEC Press Release – Cohen and Nikas (2019) | Nikas Final Judgment