Mark Cuban Accused Of Insider Trading

    November 17, 2008

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theaters, and HDNet, has been accused of insider trading.  The SEC claims that, following a private conversation with the’s CEO, Cuban sold his entire stake in the company and thereby avoided at least $750,000 in losses.

Mark Cuban
 Mark Cuban

Chronologically, the SEC’s complaint starts with Cuban’s purchase of 600,000 shares of in March 2004.  This was equal to a 6.3 percent stake. then decided to conduct a PIPE ("private investment in public equity") offering, and its CEO contacted Cuban on June 28th.

According to the SEC, "Cuban agreed that he would keep whatever information the CEO intended to share with him confidential.  The CEO, in reliance on Cuban’s agreement to keep the information confidential, proceeded to tell Cuban about the PIPE offering.  Cuban became very upset and angry during the conversation, and said, among other things, that he did not like PIPEs because they dilute the existing shareholders.  At the end of the call, Cuban told the CEO ‘Well, now I’m screwed.  I can’t sell.’"

Mark Cuban
 Securities and Exchange Commission vs. Mark Cuban

But – according to the complaint – Cuban sold 10,000 shares the same day, and unloaded the other 590,000 on June 29th.  The SEC also notes, "Unless enjoined, Cuban is likely to commit such violations again in the future."

This situation is similar to the one in which Martha Stewart found herself not too long ago.  So far, though, the SEC is only asking that Cuban pay a "civil monetary penalty."  And although Cuban didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment, the most recent sports-related post on his blog is titled "I Hate to Lose."