A Pakistani man has been charged with manipulating the stock price of Integrated Device Technology Inc. by announcing a bogus takeover offer for the chipmaker.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said the announcement on its Edgar system instantly sparked a sharp rise in IDT’s stock price, enabling Nauman A. Aly, 32, to make $425,000 in options trading profits in less than 30 minutes.
At the SEC’s request, a Manhattan judge on Tuesday issued an order freezing Aly’s U.S. bank account so he cannot withdraw his alleged profits.
“We allege that Aly tried to fool the markets from a computer in Pakistan to make an easy profit, but we made sure he didn’t cash in,” Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC Enforcement Division, said in a news release. “Market manipulation doesn’t pay, no matter the method or how distant the perpetrator.”
The SEC said in a civil complaint that Aly purchased 1,850 call options in IDT for $18,500 at 11:50 a.m. on April 12. Eighteen minutes later, using an Edgar account he had opened in February, he filed a Schedule 13D form purporting to disclose he and five Chinese investors had acquired a 5.1% stake in IDT.
At the time of the purchase, IDT was trading at about $19.01 per share. “Because the options had an expiration date of April 15, 2016, the options would have expired worthless unless the IDTI stock price increased to more than $20 within three days,” the SEC noted.
The 13D filing also said Aly’s group had sent a letter to IDT’s board in which they offered to buy all of the company’s outstanding shares for $32.00 per share, a premium of 65% to the closing price on April 11.
“By any measure, we believe our proposal represents a compelling opportunity that your stockholders will find extremely attractive,” the letter said.
After IDT’s stock price increased by more than 25% to $23.99 in less than 10 minutes, Aly allegedly sold all of his options. A few hours later, IDT issued a press release saying it had not had “any communication whatsoever” with Aly’s group.