SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A former executive with Sunnyvale-based technology firm Infinera Corporation and a second person are accused of securities fraud over the alleged use of insider information to trade and profit from stock transactions. A third defendant has pleaded guilty to the charge in a case federal authorities made public Tuesday.
Nathaniel Brown, Senior Revenue Manager in Infinera’s finance organization from 2011 to 2017, allegedly obtained confidential information about the optical networking company’s performance and financial projections and passed it on to two others, according to a press statement from Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Stephanie Hinds.
According to the complaint, between April 2016 through November 2017, the 49-year-old San Jose resident used the WhatsApp messaging service, among other means, to share the inside information about Infinera stock with a person he knew would use it to execute stock transactions. A second San Jose resident, 42-year-old Benjamin Wylam, was charged with using WhatsApp to receive confidential Infinera information to trade in Infinera and profit. Authorities are seeking a judgment against Wylam of $999,000, an amount that constitutes or is derived from proceeds that Wylam obtained, according to the complaint.
On March 31, 49-year-old Naveen Sood of Campbell pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud for trading in Infinera stock using illicitly-obtained inside information. According to the complaint, Sood socialized with a person identified as Individual 1 to whom Sood owned a debt in April of 2016 of more than $100,000. That person presented Sood with what was described as an opportunity to pay off the debt by trading in Infinera stock, the complaint said.
Individual 1 divulged detailed financial information over a period of time to Sood before public release, including lower-than-expected earnings in the spring of 2016 and revenue below expectations in August 2017. Sood admitted to using the non-public information to purchase put options on Infinera stock before the earnings announcement and later selling them for a profit of $36,455. Sood also admitted using different brokerage accounts to acquire no less than $215,000 in criminal proceeds.
Sood also socialized with an person identified as Individual 2, who Sood concluded was an employee of Infinera and the source of insider information of Infinera stock, the complaint said.
Brown and Wylam are also charged with one count of securities fraud and face the same maximum statutory penalties as Sood, which is 25 years in prison and the greater of either $250,000 or twice the gross gain made from the offense as well as possible fines, forfeitures, and restitution. However, any sentence following a conviction would also take into consideration any federal sentencing guidelines.
Brown is scheduled to be arraigned on June 16, while Wylam has a June 23 court date. Sood is scheduled for a status conference on September 8.
In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a separate enforcement action against Brown, Wylam, Sood, and three others.
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