A ruling by the Supreme Court of Victoria has detailed on Tuesday the biggest case of insider trading on the foreign exchange market in the history of Australia. The perpetrators Lukas Kamay and Christopher Hill have been charged on multiple counts and pleaded guilty.
The scheme was conducted between August 2013 and May 2014, when Kamay was caught after being reported by two brokers to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). As reported by FortuneZ last year, the duo has been arrested shortly after ASIC and the Australian Federal Police launched a joint investigation.
The perpetrators met in 2007 at Monash University, where they both studied economics and commerce. After graduating in 2011 Kamay joined the Natonal Australia Bank (NAB) where he worked at the firm’s foreign exchange sales desk in Melbourne.
At the same time Hill started working in the capital at the Australian Bureau of Statistics as an analyst. In his role, he was participating in the analysis of monthly labor figures. The Australian non-farm payrolls report is one of the most volatile events on the foreign exchange markets, with the country’s employment situation changing materially in recent years.
However the access of Hill to data was not limited to the labor statistics numbers, he was about to start providing Kamay with much more than just that.
After meeting at a party in 2013, the duo discussed the opportunity for Hill to provide economic indicators data to Kamay, who would be executing trades on a retail forex account, using leveraged trading. The perpetrators have also agreed to open some trades knowingly resulting in losses in order to conceal their tracks.
Moves in the AUD/USD exchange rate have been quite frequent, and while the pair has agreed to only gain up to AU$200,000, Kamay secretively opened more than one account to personally profit from the data he was receiving.
“Greed is good”… not!
By mutual agreement Kamay and Hill would stop executing their scheme after reaching a balance of $200,000, from which the ABS employee was supposed to receive AU$50,000. However the good old Gordon Gekko quote from the 1987 Wall Street movie took its toll. “Greed is good,” thought Mr Kamay and proceeded with opening an account for himself.
The first and second accounts in the scheme, one for the duo and one for Kamay alone were opened at Pepperstone. Between September 2013 and May 2014 there was a total of 21 deals conducted on the first account with profits netting $195,000, which was in line with the agreement the duo made.
What Hill didn’t know that at the same time, between September 2013 and February 2014, Kamay has amassed AU$956,000 on his second account.
But this is not where good old greed took its toll – Kamay proceeded to open two more accounts with AxiCorp. He managed to gain on his first account about AU$601,000 inter trades. It was the second account however that tipped the scales, as Kamay executed 8 trades on it which netted him AU$5,372,000.
In the end Kamay amassed over AU$7 million in profits while he gave Hill for his assistance about AU$19,500.
In the meantime…
The suspicions about the Kamay’s trading activity have first arisen after ASIC received a report from Pepperstone about suspected insider trading on the 19th of February. Shortly after, AxiCorp was the second company to report to authorities that there was suspicious activity on the account of the NAB employee.
After the Australian regulator informed the relevant authorities about the suspect, the Australian Federal Police and ASIC have began a joint investigation.
Three months later, on May the 9th, the duo was apprehended after their homes have been searched and some items have been seized. The criminal acts of Kamay and Hill seized only after their arrests.
Jail time sentences
Both individuals have been charged on multiple counts with Hill pleading guilty of four charges of abuse of public office, insider trading and identity theft as the pair used the mobile devices of other people to communicate between themselves.
Kamay plead guilty to multiple charges of insider trading, identity theft and money laundering.
Both perpetrators have been sentenced to jail time by the Supreme Court of Victoria. Christopher Hill mandated to serve 3 years and 3 months with a fixed period of 2 years preventing parole, while Kamay got 7 years and 3 months of imprisonment with a fixed period of 4 years and 6 months before he becomes eligible for parole.
The full court transcript can be read below.