SEC Enforcement Action Holding Southwest Securities Broker Accountable for Market Timing is Affirmed by 5th Circuit

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is affirming the Securities Exchange Commission’s enforcement action against Southwest Securities broker Scott Gann who is accused of engaging in market timing activities that violated certain funds’ restrictions. The 5th circuit’s decision affirms a lower court’s ruling in favor of the SEC.

In 2002, Scott Gann and George Fasciano, both employees of Southwest Securities Inc, designed a plan for Haidar Capital Management and Capital Advisor that would allow them to trade mutual funds by engaging in market timing. The two men agreed to share the commissions.

The court says the two men studied the fund companies’ rules and requirements regarding market timing and that everyone involved was aware that the trades would have to take place “under the radar” so block notices wouldn’t be sent to them. The two men then opened up 21 accounts for nine HCM affiliates-each one had the same investors.

Trading for HCM started on Feb 10, 2003. SWS was issued a block notice 15 days later. Fasciano and Gun then switched the identifier number that was being used so they could keep trading.

They made 2,500 trades over a seven-month period in 56 companies mutual funds. They were sent 69 block notices.Their trades had an aggregate value of $650 million. Gann made about $56,640.67.

The SEC filed its enforcement action against the two men in 2005 and contended that the trades violated Section 10(b). Without admitting to wrongdoing, Fasciano settled.

The district court found that Gann had made material misstatements with the intent to deceive and had violated Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5. The court ordered Gann to disgorge his profits from the HCM trades and pay a penalty of $50,000. The court also further enjoined him from future violations. This was affirmed by the appeals court.

In the 5th Circuit Court, Judge Jacques Wiener Jr. said that Gann failed to make a factual showing to show that the district court clearly made a mistake when it ruled in favor of the SEC and found that Gann violated the 1934 Securities Exchange Act Section 10(b).

While the court notes that market timing is not against the law, there are a number of mutual fund companies that do not allow this type of activity. Brokers who engage in market timing will occasionally get “block notices” from funds to let them know that they’ve gone against the fund’s restrictions, as well as bar certain accounts controlled by the broker from future trades.

Related Web Resources:
Southwest Securities to Pay $10 Million, and Three Present or Former Managers to Receive 12-Month Supervisory Suspensions, in Settlement of Administrative Proceedings Based on Southwest Securities and Managers’ Failure to Supervise Registered Representatives Who Committed Fraud,, January 10, 2005
Market TIming, Investopedia
Isn’t market timing illegal?,
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