LONDON (Reuters) - A London judge on Thursday sentenced both a former UBS compliance officer and her day-trader friend to three years in jail after they were convicted by a jury of insider dealing, saying she hoped to deter others from such market abuse.
Fabiana Abdel-Malek, 36, and Walid Anis Choucair, 40, were both found guilty after a two-month retrial at London’s Southwark Crown Court in a case prosecuted by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the regulator said in a statement.
A previous jury had been unable to reach a verdict last year.
Abdel-Malek searched UBS’s compliance system and used disposable SIM cards and cheap and disposable “burner” cellphones to pass secrets to Choucair about five takeovers between June 2013 and June 2014. She was not accused of taking a cut of profits of around 1 million pounds ($1.27 million).
But Judge Joanna Korner called her a gamekeeper, who had used the knowledge she had gained from her employer to become “an efficient and accomplished poacher”. Choucair, the judge said, had been driven by greed.
“There is no question that both of your actions were deliberate, dishonest and committed over a period of a year,” she said.
The case marks a victory for the FCA, whose Chief Executive Andrew Bailey is widely tipped as the leading candidate to succeed Bank of England governor Mark Carney.
The watchdog started prosecuting market abuse cases around 2009 and has now secured 36 convictions. But the number of suspicious market trades, that could be a sign of market abuse, surged to a record 5,926 in 2018, according to FCA data.
The judge said Choucair had corrupted the UBS worker but that Abdel-Malek had committed a “gross breach of trust”.
“In these cases there has to be an element of deterrence, it is vital that these kind of offences are deterred by the knowledge that if they are committed and you are convicted, there is an inevitable sentence of imprisonment,” she said.
Mark Steward, the head of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said the pair were calculated and organized.
“It was insider dealing at its most venal,” he said in a statement. “The FCA is determined to attack all forms of insider dealing, from opportunistic insiders to those who devise dishonest schemes to exploit and manipulate sources of inside information.”
Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; editing by David Evans and Elaine Hardcastle