The secretary for a high level Disney corporate communications executive and her boyfriend have been arrested in an attempted insider trading scam.
Bonnie Hoxie is accused by federal prosecutors, along with her boyfriend, Yonni Sebbag, of trying to sell to an FBI agent internal company information related to Disney's May quarterly report for $15,000 in cash.
The executive was not named in the suit, but has been identified by the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal as executive vice president Zenia Mucha.
Hoxie and Seggab were each charged by federal prosecutors with one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud. If convicted on all counts, they could face up to 25 years in prison.
The federal complaint alleges that Sebbag anonymously emailed the operators of hedge funds, capital management firms and other financial players, offering to furnish them with information provided by Hoxie in exchange for cash.
Comments by Sebbag in a related complaint sparked off internet reports that Disney was on the verge of selling ABC — a claim Disney categorically denies.
The charges against the pair stem from an email sent from the Google address "firstname.lastname@example.org: "Hi, I have access to DISNEY's (DIS) quarterly earnings report before its release on 5/03/10 … I am willing to share with you information for a fee that we can determine later."
Prosecutors say that Google revealed that the address was initiated by a "jonathan cyrus" on March 2 from a Kinko's store in Culver City.
Observing protocol, most of the firms contacted by the anonymous individual reported the email to the FBI, which in turn issued an undercover response.
On May 14 FBI agents, posing as hedge fund traders, gave Sebbag $15,000 in exchange for confidential documents on Disney’s quarterly earnings.
Buried in a related criminal complaint, Sebbag claims that Disney chief Bob Iger is in talks with two private equity firms to sell the network. That tidbit that actually started reports on the internet Wednesday of an impending Disney sale – which Disney categorically denies.
"I only have access to the earnings report that is delivered to us three days before its offcial release date," Sebbag is alleged to have said in one of a string of emails. "Until then, i (sic) will not be able to get you any other documents, but here is a piece of information i can give you to show good faith and build trust. Bob Iger is in serious and advanced negotiations with two private equity firms to sell them the ABC network but now price has been determined."
"The Walt Disney Company has been fully cooperating with this investigation," read a Disney statement. "The reference in the complaint to conversations regarding the ABC network were and are false."
Hoxie was release on $50,000 bail and ordered to appear in federal court in New York on June 3, according to a report in the L.A. Times. Sebbag, who the Times reported speaks with a heavy foreign accent, was ordered detained by federal Judge Patrick Walsh.