Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Who's Worse, Mark Cuban or the SEC?

I have to admit, it's a close question. Joe Nocera makes the point that the SEC, by pursuing this "boorish" billionaire while not giving a damn about, for instance, Overstock.com's restatement of years of financials, proves that the SEC is sinking into irrelevance.

Now then — don’t you sleep better at night knowing the feds are bringing rich guys like Mark Cuban to heel? No? Neither do I. In fact, if the case illustrates anything, it is how far the Securities and Exchange Commission has descended into irrelevance since Christopher Cox became chairman. That has become even more obvious since the financial crisis broke.
Cuban, meanwhile, has made the case for Cuban by having his lawyers try the case in his blog by raising what strikes me as a bit of a red herring.

Cuban claims he was not specifically told the information that he received was confidential. But, even if he wasn't told it was confidential, it clearly was "material, non-public information." He sold in advance of the public getting that info, a la Sharesleuth.

As I said yesterday, I'm underwhelmed by the SEC's case against Cuban. But I'm equally underwhelmed by Cuban's "defense," which indicates to me, once again, that this guy has an ethical blind spot a mile wide.

The expression "pox on both their houses" comes to mind. No, I sure as hell won't be sleeping any better knowing that the SEC is pursuing this sleazeball, but I'm equally sure as hell that I won't be losing any sleep over it.

UPDATE: Aaron Task suggests on Yahoo Finance that Cuban may have had "too many powerful enemies." I agree, and the enemy is Mark Cuban. The more I look at the case against Cuban, and his response to the charges, the less underwhelmed I am with the SEC's case.

© 2008 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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