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The Cooperman Insider Trading Case

Eerie similarities to 2004 Mark Cuban case

The insider trading case against Leon Cooperman is eerily similar to the SEC’s loss to Mark Cuban, by relying on a “he-said, she-said” claim of an oral promise not to trade - but is bolstered by Cooperman asserting his right against self-incrimination during SEC testimony. The gravamen of the case is the same: that Cooperman made an oral agreement not to trade stock based on information from a company executive.1 But because Cooperman “took the Fifth” during his SEC investigative testimony, the SEC may have the upper hand this time.

The SEC is relying on Cooperman’s alleged oral promise not to trade because it has to prove that he had a “fiduciary or other similar relationship of trust and confidence” with Atlas Pipeline Partners, L.P. (“APL”) not to use its confidential information about a merger with Elk City for his personal gain.2 Cooperman was not an APL officer or employee, and thus he did not have a traditional fiduciary relationship with APL - he was merely a 9% stockholder. The alleged promise establishes a “similar relationship of trust and confidence” with APL under the “temporary insider” theory of liability.3 Thus, the SEC had to rely on the alleged oral promise to keep APL’s information about a pending merger confidential to prove liability.

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