SEC charges ex-Apple lawyer with insider trading

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Former Apple lawyer Gene Levoff used confidential Apple earnings data to make millions.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple’s former lawyer who was in charge of preventing employees from insider trading has been charged with insider trading himself.

The Securities and Exchange Commission accuses Gene Levoff, former senior director of corporate law and corporate secretary at Apple, of using inside information to buy and sell tens of millions of dollars worth of Apple shares in order to make a profit or avoid losses.

Levoff, who left Apple last September, is accused of trading shares based on “nonpublic information about Apple’s earnings three times during 2015 and 2016,” according to the lawsuit reported by CNBC.

This is perhaps the most high-profile instance of insider trading discovered at Apple in decades. Steve Jobs had his own SEC scandal for back-dated stock options. Apple had to pay $14 million in damages, but the SEC decided not to pursue charges. It looks like Levoff won’t get off as easy.

Gene Levoff and Apple insider trading scandal

“Levoff also had a previous history of insider trading, having traded on Apple’s material nonpublic information at least three additional times in 2011 and 2012. For the trading in 2015 and 2016, Levoff profited and avoided losses of approximately $382,000,” the SEC’s complaint says.

Apple had an insider trading policy that applied to all employees before Levoff was hired. The SEC says the company took steps to prevent employees from trading on nonpublic info, like the quarterly financial results Levoff got an early look at because he was on Apple’s disclosure committee. Employees also received email notices when restricted trading periods were in effect. Levoff broke that rule, too.

If anyone at Apple knew the rules against insider trading, it was Levoff. During his time at the company, he helped update Apple’s insider trading policies. He even sent emails to employees notifying them that a blackout period was about to start. Two of those emails were sent immediately prior to his insider trading in 2011. Levoff was put on leave in July 2018 and terminated in September.