A California man accused last week of insider trading on Disney’s $4 billion purchase of Marvel is hitting back at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In a letter sent to a number of media outlets Tuesday night, Toby G. Scammell writes that the SEC ignored or misrepresented his trading history to bolster its charges that the financial analyst exploited his girlfriend’s job at Disney to make a financial windfall from the deal.
“The SEC’s complaint against me is so riddled with omissions, distortions and inaccuracies that it’s hard to know where to begin,” Scammell writes. “To grab headlines, the SEC has concocted an imaginative story that’s not supported by the facts.”
The defendant has launched a website, SECFail.com, on which he said he will post documents and other evidence that support his assertion that the regulatory agency's case is trumped up.
The SEC alleges that Scammell used confidential information he teased out of his girlfriend to make a 3,000 percent profit and a $192,000 payday in the days leading up to Marvel’s sale.
Scammell purchased shares of Marvel just before the stock price shot up 25 percent on the public announcement that the company would be sold to Disney, according to the SEC’s complaint.
But Scammell claims that his own independent research led him to believe that Marvel was on the auction block. Though he also worked on a deal for Disney, Scammell writes he was not privy to any inside information on the impending merger.
Nor did he get any from his girlfriend, he claims.
“The SEC is making an illogical leap and assuming that I knew what my girlfriend knew,” Scammell wrote. “Call it the SEC’s transitive theory of insider information: If Person A knows Person B and Person B knows Fact C then Person A knows Fact C. Based on that standard, well-networked investors everywhere should be sued and embarrassed in the press, not for receiving information but merely for their relationships.”
As for his enormously profitable bets on Marvel, Scammell said they were in keeping with an “aggressive” investment history — a track record that he asserts helps negate perhaps the most damning piece of evidence against him: He chose a $50 and $45 strike price for Marvel, uncannily close to the stock’s acquisition price
“I have years of history trading penny stocks and speculating on FDA approvals, acquisitions, earnings calls, and political events. In 2004, I spent four months researching and writing a book on scenario-based trading,” Scammell wrote.
Scammell goes on to refute the SEC’s claims that his history of searching terms such as “insider trading” is evidence of any wrongdoing.
“The SEC forgot to mention that my web history shows all of these searches and pages directly stemmed from a Wall Street Journal article I was reading about Mark Cuban’s SEC case,” Scammell wrote. “These searches had nothing to do with Marvel.”
In his lengthy rebuttal to the charges outlined against him in the SEC’s complaint, Scammell occasionally paused to take pot shots at the regulatory agency.
“If the SEC understood how to read a bank statement or how call options worked, then I wouldn’t be writing this,” Scammell wrote. “But this is the SEC — an incompetent government agency filled with bumbling lawyers who don’t understand the first thing about the markets they’re charged with regulating. They’re the financial regulatory equivalent of the DMV, except their lawyers lack domain expertise.”