Man makes $2.3M off insider trading by snooping on wife’s remote work calls

FILE - A man in Houston has been charged with insider trading after he allegedly snooped on his wife's work calls to obtain non-public information about a BP merger. Morsa Images via Getty Images

A man in Texas has been charged with insider trading after he made US$1.76 million (over C$2.37 million) by listening in on his wife’s remote calls while she worked from home.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday accused Tyler Loudon of Houston of taking advantage of his wife’s work-from-home setup to obtain non-public information and garner illegal profits.

The agency said Loudon’s wife, who has not been publicly named, was a merger and acquisitions manager for the oil and gas company BP. She had been working to finalize the company’s plans to acquire TravelCenters of America Inc., an Ohio-based full-service truck stop and travel centre company.

But before BP made a public announcement about the acquisition in February 2023, Loudon, 42, purchased 46,450 shares of TravelCenters stock without his wife’s knowledge.

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After BP announced the merger, TravelCenters of America Inc. stock jumped nearly 71 per cent. Seeing an opportunity for dramatic financial gain, the SEC alleged, Loudon immediately sold all of his stock.

Loudon is also facing criminal charges. He pleaded guilty to securities fraud.

“We allege that Mr. Loudon took advantage of his remote working conditions and his wife’s trust to profit from information he knew was confidential,” Eric Werner, the regional director of the SEC’s Fort Worth office, said in a press release. “The SEC remains committed to prosecuting such malfeasance.”

Loudon did not deny the allegations against him. He entered a partial judgment, which is subject to court approval, that would see Loudon repay the money he made from the trade with interest and an additional fine, which has yet to be determined.

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According to The Guardian, Loudon eventually confessed to his wife about buying and selling the stock. He reportedly said he made the illegal move so she would not have to work long hours at her job. She reported her husband’s activity to BP and was later fired, despite the company finding no evidence of wrongdoing on her end.

Then, she moved out and filed to divorce Loudon.

BP has not commented publicly on the situation.

The SEC filed its charges against Loudon in the U.S. District Court for Southern Texas. Loudon is expected to be criminally sentenced on May 17. He faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible US$250,000 (nearly C$337,100) fine.

Loudon’s case comes at a time when many employees, in Canada and beyond, are being asked by their employers to return to the office.

According to a Statistics Canada report from January, more Canadians are returning to the workplace after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many to work from home. The data shows that only about 20 per cent of Canadians worked mostly from home in November 2023, down from just over 40 per cent in April 2020.

Still, many Canadians said they are said they were as efficient at home, reporting they accomplished at least as much work per hour at home as they did in the office. The report then notes that “whether Canadian employers’ assessments of teleworkers’ productivity align with those of their employees remains an open question.”

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With files from Global News’ Nathaniel Dove 

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