An Estonian man who allegedly used a 'spider' program to steal advance PR filings from the Business Wire Web site will pay a $15,000 fine to settle electronic theft charges and return more than $550,000 of trading profits, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says.
Kristjan Lepik, of Tallinn, agreed to pay the fines without admitting or denying allegations that he illegally traded on data obtained by accessing information contained in advance PR filings on the Business Wire site.
The SEC filed charges against Lepik and his co-worker Oliver Peek in November last year and said the two had made at least $7.8 million by illegally trading in advance of more than 360 confidential press releases issued by more than 200 US public companies.
Lepik and Peek who were working at Estonian financial services firm Lohmus Haavel & Viisemann (Lohmus), which was a Business Wire client, are accused of surreptitiously using a "spider" program to gain unauthorised access to confidential information contained in impending nonpublic press releases.
The SEC claims that the two exploited a weakness in Business Wire's system that allowed them see sensitive information, including which companies would issue press releases and when.
The SEC says Lepik's penalty reflected his "cooperation" with US securities regulators who are investigating the case.