Nine people were formally charged Tuesday in an insider trading scheme in which rogue traders allegedly teamed up with hackers to steal corporate information from financial newswire agencies and generate more than $100 million in illegal profits. The case, officials said, exposed the vulnerabilities of digital security measures for financial markets.
In two federal indictments unsealed Tuesday in New Jersey and the Eastern District of New York, Ukrainian hackers allegedly breached the networks of Marketwired, PR Newswire Association, and Business Wire to steal more than 150,000 confidential press releases from publicly-traded companies before their release. The information was then allegedly shared with traders in Russia, Ukraine, Malta, Cyprus, and France, as well as three U.S. states: Georgia, New York, and Pennsylvania.
“This international scheme is unprecedented in terms of the scope of the hacking, the number of traders, the number of securities traded and profits generated,” said Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White.
Authorities alleged the hackers targeted companies from a variety of industries, including Bank of America, Boeing, Delta, Dreamworks Animation, Hewlett Packard, Home Depot, Caterpillar, Panera Bread, Viacom, and Netflix.
The two alleged lead hackers, Ivan Turchynov and Oleksandr Ieremenko, allegedly recruited rogue traders with a video boasting of their ability to obtain corporate information before its public release.
Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, told reporters at a press conference Tuesday in Newark that the rogue investors traded on less than 1% of the stolen releases, "[using] their market sophistication and experience to decide when and how to exploit that financial information."
Authorities said five of the men were arrested on Tuesday, while international notices have been issued for the remaining men – including alleged hackers Turchynov and Ieremenko – who are believed to be in Ukraine.
The Securities and Exchange Commission also announced separate civil charges against 32 people in connection with the case.
White told reporters the case was emblematic of the vulnerability of financial markets in the information age. "It illustrates the risks posed to our global markets by sophisticated hackers," she said.
Read the indictments:
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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