US charges former top Apple lawyer with insider trading

SEC charges former Apple exec with insider trading

As the head of Apple's corporate law office, Levoff was in charge of ensuring that employees complied with the company's policy on insider trading, the SEC said in the compliant.

Levoff, of San Carlos, California, had worked at Apple for a decade and overseen about 20 to 30 lawyers and paralegals responsible for its global corporate law issues prior to his termination in September, the SEC said.

Despite this, prosecutors said Levoff bought and sold more than $14 million of Apple stock, including $10 million in July 2015 alone, after being given draft earnings materials but before the results were made public. The SEC says this helped him avoid $345,000 in losses.

The US Department of Justice also said Wednesday that it had charged Levoff with one count of securities fraud. As a member of Apple's "disclosure committee", he got to review quarterly and annual reports, and press statements before their public release. The SEC's filing says that, on three occasions in 2010 and 2011, Levoff emailed employees to warn them that the company was entering a blackout period and that they were prohibited from trading Apple shares. Levoff did this not once, not twice but three times, according to the SEC in its civil lawsuit against the exec.

According to the complaint, Levoff's role including sending, or supervising the sending, of those notification emails to individuals subject to trading restrictions around Apple's quarterly earnings announcements.

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In 2015, Levoff also initiated and implemented an update to Apple's insider trading policy.

Federal prosecutors say Gene Levoff, Apple's senior director of corporate law until previous year, used advance information about the company's earnings to trade its shares ahead of three quarterly reports in 2015 and 2016.

The SEC wants Levoff to pay back the profits gained and losses avoided due to his alleged actions, which the commission says amounts to approximately $382,000.

Levoff and an attorney representing didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The former is seeking a fine and a ban on him serving on public company boards, as well as repaying his profits, while the DOJ's charges carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. The computer servers on which numerous trades were executed are located in New Jersey, the SEC says.

The cases are U.S. v. Levoff, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 19-mag-03507; and SEC v. Levoff in the same court, No. 19-05536.

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