SEC, billionaire Mark Cuban set for insider trading trial

Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:36pm EDT
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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Mark Cuban, the billionaire who regularly sits courtside to cheer on his Dallas Mavericks basketball team, is heading to a court of a different kind on Monday.

Once there, he hopes to convince a federal jury that a civil insider trading case brought against him by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission should fail.

The showdown in U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater's courtroom in Dallas is expected to last eight to 10 days.

The case stems from Cuban's June 2004 sale of 600,000 shares of Inc, soon after he had supposedly learned of an equity offering that could depress the Montreal-based Internet search company's stock price.

The SEC said the sale let Cuban avoid a roughly $750,000 loss on his 6.3 percent stake. It seeks to recoup illegal gains, impose a fine, and win a permanent ban against similar conduct.

While the SEC has become more aggressive in pursuing higher-profile defendants, a description that fits the charismatic Cuban, Monday's trial comes in a case that predates that push.

Cuban, who might have tried to settle with the SEC for a fairly small sum, has been battling the regulator for nearly five years.

"The fact it is going forward is probably motivated by Mark Cuban's desire for vindication," said Jay Brown, a securities regulation professor at the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law. "If the SEC could have settled, it would have. They hate it when they lose, and there's a possibility of that."   Continued...

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban holds the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy during a ceremony before their NBA basketball game with the Miami Heat in Dallas, Texas December 25, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone