Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim announced Saturday a former partner of an international law firm pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
Walter C. Little, aka “Chet,” used his position to learn “nonpublic information” about several of the firm’s clients, including information regarding expected earnings and mergers. Little passed that information to Andrew M. Berke who traded on it. Little also used that information to place securities trades. Berke and Little made about $1 million in profits through their trading.
“As he admitted in court today, Walter Little, while a law firm partner, accessed confidential information about firm clients, and then traded on it,” Kim said in a statement. He violated the terms of his employment, the canons of his profession, and federal securities laws. Now Walter Little awaits sentencing for his crime.”
The international firm provided legal services to a broad variety of corporations in connection with regulatory issues and financial transactions. The firm was responsible for protecting its clients’ nonpublic information, which Little failed to do.
Little accessed the firm’s document management system to view documents relating to seven companies. These documents contained nonpublic information about an anticipated delisting from the NASDAQ, acquisitions, mergers, planned securities offering and anticipated earnings announcements.
Little traded options and stocks based on that information between February 2015 and May 2016. He faces a five-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 22, 2018.