On September 28, 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it charged Anthony Viggiano, a former analyst with two leading financial institutions in New York, and his three associates – Christopher Salamone, Stephen Forlano, and Nathan Bleckley – with insider trading in connection with illegal trades made in advance of numerous merger and acquisition transactions.
According to the SEC’s complaint, during the course of his employment, Viggiano learned about several impending merger and acquisition transactions and strategic partnerships before the events were publicly announced. While Viggiano allegedly knew that it was illegal for him to trade or tip others regarding the material nonpublic information (“MNPI”) obtained through his employment, he allegedly tipped his childhood friend Salamone and gave him cash to trade in securities based on the MNPI provided. After placing illegal trades in advance of six transactions, Salamone reportedly realized approximately $322,000 in profits and shared approximately $35,000 in cash with Viggiano with the intent to provide him more. Viggiano also purportedly tipped a close college friend, Forlano, regarding at least four transactions, and Forlano allegedly traded in advance of three of those transactions generating illegal profits of approximately $114,000. The SEC further alleges that Forlano shared the tips with five friends and family members who earned combined profits of approximately $110,000 from their trades, including Forlano’s close college friend Bleckley who traded in advance to two transactions and realized almost $25,000 in illegal gains.
According to the SEC’s complaint, which was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, all four defendants were charged with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder for participating in the insider trading scheme. Viggiano and Salamone were additionally charged with violating Section 14(e) of the Exchange Act and Rule 14e-3 thereunder for allegedly trading and/or tipping in advance of a proposed tender offer before it was publicly announced. The SEC seeks to permanently enjoin defendants from engaging in further securities violations and requests an order for disgorgement with pre-judgment interest and civil penalties.
On the same day, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced that parallel criminal charges were filed against Viggiano, Forlano, and Salamone. The US Attorney unsealed an indictment charging Viggiano and Forlano with securities fraud and conspiracy. The USAO also revealed that Salamone was cooperating with the government and unsealed a guilty plea that was entered by Salamone on September 21, 2023 for his role in the scheme.