The Securities and Exchange Commission has brought suit against Gene Daniel Levoff, who was Apple's senior director of corporate law until September 2018. Levoff is accused of using his position to make illegal trades of Apple shares.
Levoff was part of Apple's Disclosure Committee—one of the people who could review the company's quarterly financial reports ahead of their publication. The SEC maintains that he used nonpublic information obtained as part of the committee to inform trades he made of Apple shares. For example, in July 2015 he learned that Apple was going to miss analyst estimates for iPhone unit sales. Between July 17 and July 21, when Apple published its quarterly earnings report, he sold nearly his entire holding of Apple stock, totaling nearly $10 million. When the news became public, Apple's share price dropped by more than 4 percent—selling early avoided losses of approximately $345,000.
The SEC alleges that, between 2011 and 2012, Levoff reportedly made $245,000 in profit and, in 2015 and 2016, avoided losses totaling $382,000.
Apple fired Levoff last year after conducting an internal investigation in response to contact from the authorities. During his career at Apple, he was one of the people responsible for ensuring that employees followed the company's insider-trading policy. In 2015, he even implemented an update to the policy. The SEC's filing says that, on three occasions in 2010 and 2011, Levoff emailed employees to warn them that the company was entering a blackout period and that they were prohibited from trading Apple shares. Two of these emails were "immediately prior" to his 2011 insider trading.
One of those emails included the following all-caps reminder:
REMEMBER, IS NOT PERMITTED, WHETHER OR NOT IN AN OPEN TRADING WINDOW, IF YOU POSSESS OR HAVE ACCESS TO MATERIAL INFORMATION THAT HAS NOT BEEN DISCLOSED PUBLICLY
The SEC is demanding Levoff pay a sum equal to the profits made and losses avoided over the last five years, along with a penalty of three times that amount. The agency is also demanding that he be banned from serving as an officer or director of a public company. Simultaneously, the US Attorney in Newark, New Jersey, has filed criminal charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine.