Start-Up CFO Fined $100,000 in NZ for Insider Trading

Mark Talbot knew that VMob's contract with McDonald's would boost the company's stock price

The former chief financial officer (CFO) of a technology company has been fined NZD 150,000 ($101,000) for insider trading.

According to the New Zealand Financial Markets Authority (FMA), Mark Talbot took advantage of insider knowledge in 2014.

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At the time, Talbot was CFO of VMob – now called Plexure – a mobile marketing company.

The firm, which is listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX), has worked with some big firms, including furniture giant IKEA and American retail giant 7/11.

In 2014, the company was also awarded a contract with one of the biggest companies in the world – McDonald’s.

Before the news was made public, Talbot purchased one million shares in VMob. The ex-CFO knew that, once investors found out about the McDonald’s contract, the company’s stock was very likely to increase in price.

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For dad

Talbot told prosecutors that he purchased the stocks to give to his father, something that New Zealand judicial authorities rejected.

After buying the stocks through a company he owned – Blumau – Talbot alerted compliance officials at the NZX.

In turn, those officials passed on their findings to the FMA who began proceedings against the former CFO.

Alongside his fine, Talbot has been banned from holding any director roles in New Zealand companies for five years.

“Maintaining market integrity is core business for the FMA,” said Karen Chang, FMA Head of Enforcement.

“Unethical trading and a disregard for disclosure obligations erode investor confidence in our markets at a fundamental level.”

As part of his punishment, Talbot also had to admit that he took advantage of his knowledge of the McDonald’s contract and contravened securities regulations in doing so.

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