FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. Congressman Stephen Buyer arrives for his insider trading trial at the United States Courthouse in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., March 8, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
By Jody Godoy
(Reuters) – Former U.S. Congressman Stephen Buyer told jurors an “obvious cover story” to justify trading on information he learned as a consultant to T-Mobile US (NASDAQ:TMUS) Inc ahead of its $23 billion merger with Sprint, a prosecutor said as a trial on criminal insider trading charges drew to a close in New York on Thursday.
Buyer was a Republican from Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1993 and 2011 before working as a corporate consultant.
During the trial in Manhattan, which began on March 1, Buyer took the stand and denied using client information to buy Sprint stock before the telecommunications company was acquired by T-Mobile in 2018, and to trade ahead of another client’s impending merger.
He testified on Wednesday that he had Sprint on a handwritten list of stocks to watch that he had since discarded, and deduced the company was poised for a merger after reading an analyst report in April 2018.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kiersten Fletcher told jurors during closing arguments on Thursday that the explanation was an “obvious cover story” given that Buyer had started to buy Sprint stock in late March while he was on a golf trip with a T-Mobile executive who knew about the deal.
Buyer made more than $100,000 from the Sprint trades, and more than $200,000 on stock in Navigant Consulting Inc, which he purchased before the company was acquired by Guidehouse in 2019, prosecutors say.
Buyer’s attorney Henry Asbill said in court there was no hard evidence that Buyer was told about the merger before he traded.
The jury is scheduled to begin deliberating on Friday.
The case is U.S. v. Buyer, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 1:22-cr-00397