An investment banker who attended the prestigious Yale University was convicted this past week of insider trading charges after a jury determined that he gave tips about mergers and acquisitions to his father, generating over $1 million in illegal profits.
Sean Stewart, 35, testified during the two-week Manhattan federal court trial that he did not know his father was sharing secrets with a broker to make trades in advance of public announcements on five separate deals that he managed while working at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Perella Weinberg Partners LP.
Sentencing for Stewart was set for Feb. 17.
“Time and time again, Sean Stewart took his clients’ most sensitive corporate secrets,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated, according to Crains New York, “and fed them to his father on a silver platter for quick and illegal profits.”
The father, Robert Stewart, was sentenced to one year of home detention after he pled guilty to an insider trading charge.
Prosecutors claimed that evidence, including the timing of crucial meetings about the corporate deals and subsequent trades in securities by the senior Stewart, and communications between the father and son soon afterward, made it totally clear the son intentionally tipped off his father.
The father received approximately $150,000 while the stock broker got the rest of $1.1 million in profits, though prosecutors say the son personally benefited when his father utilized some of the proceeds to pay for Stewart’s wedding rehearsal dinner and for a wedding photographer.
Over two days of testimony, Stewart insisted he did nothing wrong, though he admitted to violating the rules of his employers when he talked openly and off-handedly about secret deals with his family. He claimed that he never told his father the actual dates that mergers would occur or the size of the deals, though he said he did inform his father that the timing of one of the deals was in conflict with his scheduled spring 2001 wedding date.
“I am innocent,” Stewart declared in court. “I never ever gave my father information expecting him to trade.”
Prosecutors told jurors that Stewart continued to provide his father with inside information even after he was confronted by JPMorgan lawyers about stock trades his father made concerning a merger of companies the son helped to arrange in 2011. They said the father conducted those trades based on information he received from his son about four other mergers afterward.
In her closing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah McCallum stated that Sean Stewart “five times … handed his father tomorrow’s news today.”