Billionaire Mark Cuban cleared of insider trading; blasts U.S. government

Thu Oct 17, 2013 3:30pm EDT
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By Jana J. Pruet

DALLAS (Reuters) - Flamboyant billionaire Mark Cuban on Wednesday was cleared by a Texas jury of using a private tip to avoid a big loss on his 2004 sale of Internet company shares, in a stinging rebuke for the U.S. government which had accused him of insider trading.

Cuban, 55, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, lashed out at the U.S. government and lead prosecutor Jan Folena after the verdict, saying the government had tried to bully him.

"Jan Folena, who represents the United States of America, stood up there and lied," an angry Cuban told reporters after the nine-member jury read its decision.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world and I'm glad I could stand up to them," he said.

Estimated by Forbes magazine to have a net worth of $2.5 billion, Cuban was accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of trading on non-public information when he sold his 600,000 shares in Internet search company - worth $7.9 million - and avoided a $750,000 loss.

The SEC brought the civil lawsuit against Cuban in November 2008. A judge dismissed the suit in 2009 but an appeals court revived the case the following year.

Cuban refused to settle the case and went to trial, even though he said on Wednesday that he had spent more on fees for lawyers than the possible fines for admitting to insider trading. He could have faced up to $2 million in fines, his lawyers said.

"It's personal. You take all these years of my life, it's personal," Cuban said.   Continued...

Mark Cuban (L), the billionaire owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, speaks with the media while his attorney Stephen Best (R) looks on prior to entering U.S District Court for the opening day of his insider trading trial in Dallas, Texas September 30, 2013. REUTERS/Tim Sharp