Lukas Kamay, 26, and Christopher Hill, 24, have pleaded guilty to multiple charges relating to insider dealing in a high profile prosecution that is stirring up a great deal of public attention in Australia.
Mr. Hill was in a unique position to obtain embargoed employment, trade and retail data as part of his duties at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), a government agency that collates data on the Australian economy. He shared this information with Mr. Kamay, and between August 2013 and May 2014 the pair collaborated to place timely trades in the currency markets, speculating on the movements of AUD/USD via mobile phones with the intention of avoiding suspicion and distancing their involvement.
The illicit trading activity has earned the pair over $7 million.
In a brief session at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday, the two defendants sat next to each other looking rather sheepish throughout the session, with parents and defense council in close attendance. High media and public interest in the case (given the rarity of insider dealing prosecutions in Australia) ensured that the court room was filled to capacity. Mr. Hill in particular was visibly nervous, maintaining a whiter shade of pale throughout.
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The defendants were represented by separate legal teams and both pleaded guilty to all charges with Mr. Kamay pleading ‘not guilty’ to a charge of ‘handling proceeds of crime’.
Both Mr. Hill and Mr. Kamay are expected to appear at the Supreme Court on October 1st in Melbourne, potentially facing several years imprisonment for their crimes, although Mr. Hill’s defense team is claiming that he was unaware of the extent of Mr. Kamay’s trading activities, and consequently should not be held responsible to the same degree.
Too Small to Protect
In view of their guilty pleas, it will be intriguing to learn the final verdict and severity of sentences for Mr. Kamay and Mr. Hill. Even more intriguing is that far larger ‘insiders’ not only use insider data to profit from currency market movements, but also oligopolistically manipulate the FX market on a global scale and avoid all criminal charges while doing so.
This case is another example of how the ‘little guys’ with an inside edge on the market are the ones looking down the barrel of a double-digit prison sentence, whereas ‘large financial intermediaries’ are only facing inquiries, guidance and fines from regulatory agencies, despite admissions of prolonged market abusive behavior.