Husband of UBS banker sued by SEC for insider trading

Peter Cho traded derivatives after eavesdropping on conversations about an upcoming deal

Dec 18, 2018 @ 4:25 pm

By Bloomberg News

His fiancée didn't know he was eavesdropping. He swiftly made more than $250,000.

They got married. Then the Securities and Exchange Commission showed up. Now the husband of a banker at UBS Group has settled allegations that he traded on inside information after listening in on his future wife's conversations about an upcoming deal.

Peter Cho, 39, obtained nonpublic information from the banker as she conducted business calls about the takeover of Virgin America by Alaska Air Group, according to an SEC complaint filed Tuesday. She had been advising Alaska Air for months before the carrier announced in April 2016 that it was buying Virgin.

The complaint paints a picture of a stressed-out mergers and acquisitions banker toiling around the clock, with work interrupting leisure time spent with her fiancé, including a tour of out-of-state wedding venues.

The name of the banker, who wasn't accused of wrongdoing, was not in the complaint. A person familiar with the matter identified her as Mr. Cho's wife, Annie Wang, a UBS director. She didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"UBS takes client confidentiality extremely seriously and fully cooperated with this investigation," UBS spokesman Peter Stack said in an emailed statement.

A month before the takeover was announced, Mr. Cho started buying derivatives in Virgin. He turned about $4,000 into $250,000 in less than a month by buying "aggressive" out-of-the-money call options, according to the SEC. In several instances, he was the only investor who purchased or held the series of options he traded.

Mr. Cho was working at the time for an accounting firm that the SEC didn't identify.

He settled the allegations without admitting or denying the agency's findings and agreed to return the $251,386 in illicit gains and pay a penalty, for a total of $532,777. His lawyer didn't respond to a request for comment.

(More: Former Morgan Stanley broker to plead guilty to insider trading)

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