The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has affirmed the dismissal of an administrative case against a former Wells Fargo & Co trader after two commissioners split on whether the evidence proved he engaged in insider trading.
The ruling on Thursday came in an appeal by the SEC's enforcement division of an administrative law judge's 2015 ruling dismissing the case against Joseph Ruggieri, who was accused of trading on tips supplied by a Wells Fargo analyst.
It marked a rare loss for the SEC's enforcement division in a case pursued through an in-house administrative proceeding. Critics call such fast-tracked proceedings unfair to defendants, some of whom have challenged the system in court....
In Thursday's ruling, the two commissioners deciding the case deadlocked on a different issue, of whether Ruggieri had indeed placed his trades while aware of non-public information.
If even the SEC commissioners can't agree on this stuff, how are ordinary individuals participating in the markets supposed to know how to behave? And how many more cases to there have to be where individuals are hauled by prosecutors or SEC officials into proceedings in which their personal freedom and professional reputations and livelihoods are at risk — only eventually to be cleared — before Congress wises up and steps in to clarify the law and rein in the rogue agencies and prosecutors?