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Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation > SEC

TIAA Trader Charged in $47M Insider Scheme

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What You Need to Know

  • Lawrence Billimek worked for TIAA unit Nuveen, where he allegedly sent tips to former day trader Alan Williams; both were arrested Wednesday.
  • Some of the equities they traded were Lululemon Athletica, Ulta Beauty and Vipshop Holdings, according to the SEC.

A Nuveen LLC trader was arrested and charged with insider trading for allegedly tipping off another person about the asset management firm’s trades in a scheme that netted them tens of millions of dollars.

Lawrence Billimek was indicted Wednesday by Manhattan federal prosecutors along with his alleged tippee, a retired financial professional and day trader named Alan Williams. The two men were also sued by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which said the proceeds of the scheme were $47 million.

Billimek, 51, was arrested in Texas on Wednesday while Williams, 77, was arrested in Oregon.

Both men are charged with conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud, which carry a maximum of 45 years in prison, prosecutors said. The government is also seeking forfeiture of more than $40.5 million and properties in Idaho, Texas, Oregon and Hawaii.

Billimek appeared before a judge in Austin and was released pending an appearance in federal court in New York next week, according to court filings. He didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Williams appeared remotely before a judge in Portland from jail. An attorney who represented him on Wednesday, Ryan Costello, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.

A spokesperson for Nuveen, a unit of TIAA, said in a statement that the firm learned of the allegations against Billimek on Wednesday.

“We immediately placed the employee on leave, suspended his access to all company networks and trading platforms and began our own review, and we are cooperating fully with authorities,” the spokesperson said.

Prosecutors allege that the men’s scheme ran from 2016 to 2022. Using prepaid burner phones to conceal their communications, Williams would allegedly obtain information from Billimek about his firm’s plans, then acquire shares ahead of the firm. He would exit the positions once the firm began trading, according to the government.

Some of the equities they traded including Lululemon Athletica Inc., Ulta Beauty Inc. and Vipshop Holdings Ltd., according to the SEC. The government filings allege Billimek had run into “substantial financial troubles” and complained of living “paycheck to paycheck” before the scheme began.

Williams would pay Billimek his share of the insider-trading proceeds using checks and wire transfers, sometimes misleading financial institutions by describing them as gifts, prosecutors said.

“Billimek and Williams tried to cover their tracks by using burner phones and secret payments, but their scheme has now been laid bare,” Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

The case is US v Billimek, 22-cr-675, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

(Image: AP) 

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