The jury declared Mark Cuban not guilty Wednesday in the insider trading case against the billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Prosecutors wanted Cuban to pay the $750,000 in losses that he avoided by selling his Mamma.com shares when he did in 2004.
If he had been convicted of illegal stock dumping in the civil case in federal court in Dallas, the Security and Exchange Commission could fine Cuban up $2.5 million, NBC News reported
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Jan Folena, an attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission, told jurors Tuesday during closing arguments, “We’re going to end this trial right where we started it, with the words of Mark Cuban: ‘Now I’m screwed. I can’t sell,’” according to Bloomberg News
Cuban allegedly made the sale after Guy Faure, the company’s chief executive officer, called him and disclosed how to dilute the value of his 6.3 percent stake in the Montreal-based company now known as Copernic Inc., Bloomberg reported.
In a recording played for the jury, Faure testified by a video deposition that he told Cuban the information and that at the end of conversation, Cuban said he was now “screwed.”
Cuban said the conversation never took place and testified he would never enter into such an agreement without written documentation, according to NBC News.
Tom Melsheimer, one of Cuban’s lead attorneys, told jurors that the SEC’s case is built on misleading information, character attacks, and a government out of control, the Dallas Morning News reported
“Not even Mark Cuban has the power to make the government stop,” Melsheimer told jurors. “Not even Mark Cuban can make the government admit it is wrong. Only you, the jury, have that power.”
Prosecutors accused Cuban of duping investors when he dumped $7.9 million in shares.
"The ordinary investor didn't have any of that information" and couldn't evaluate its importance, SEC lawyer Jan Folena told jurors, according to The Associated Press
. "Mr. Cuban could ... it took him one minute to sell everything he owned."
"He didn't play by the rules, he wasn't fair, his trade was downright illegal," Folena said.
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