10 April 2019

Former SeaWorld lawyer insider trading charge

SEC charges ex-SeaWorld associate general counsel who bought shares day after receiving confidential earnings draft with insider trading.


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged a former senior lawyer at SeaWorld Entertainment Inc with insider trading based on nonpublic information that the company’s revenue would be better than anticipated for the second quarter of 2018.

Confidential draft

The SEC alleges that Paul B Powers had early access to key revenue information as the company’s associate general counsel and assistant secretary, and he purchased 18,000 shares of SeaWorld stock the day after he received a confidential draft of the 2018 second quarter earnings release that detailed a strong financial performance by the company after a lengthy period of decline.  According to the SEC’s complaint, Mr Powers immediately sold his SeaWorld shares for approximately $65,000 in illicit profits after the company announced its positive earnings and the company’s stock price increased by 17 percent. Kurt Gottschall, director of the SEC’s Denver regional office, said “As alleged in our complaint, Powers blatantly exploited his access to nonpublic information by misusing SeaWorld’s confidential revenue data to enrich himself. Investors should feel confident in the integrity of corporate officers, particularly attorneys.  The SEC is committed to swiftly pursuing insiders who breach their duties to investors.”

Criminal charges

The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal district court in Orlando, Florida, charges Mr Powers with fraud.  He has consented to a permanent injunction with the amounts of disgorgement and penalties, if any, to be decided by the court.  The settlement is subject to court approval. In a parallel action, the US Department of Justice also announced criminal charges against Mr Powers arising out of the same conduct.

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