Ex-CSFB compliance officer guilty of insider dealing

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The Independent Online

A top City banker who made "serious riches" for himself and his friends by rigging bets on the stock market faces up to seven years in jail. Asif Butt, the former vice-president of Credit Suisse First Boston's legal and compliance department, fed highly sensitive commercial information to four friends outside the bank who made spread bets for him.

A top City banker who made "serious riches" for himself and his friends by rigging bets on the stock market faces up to seven years in jail. Asif Butt, the former vice-president of Credit Suisse First Boston's legal and compliance department, fed highly sensitive commercial information to four friends outside the bank who made spread bets for him.

The prosecution found that Butt and his friends made at least £265,000.

James Curtis QC, for the prosecution, said yesterday that Butt was the first person from a "compliance control room" to be found guilty of insider trading. Summing up, he said: "The various defendants succeeded in enriching themselves quite seriously, quite substantially." He said that the lion's share of between 50 and 80 per cent of the winnings went to Butt.

Butt, who was sacked by CSFB in January 2002, told Southwark Crown Court in London that he was addicted to betting. He admitted passing secrets to his friends but said he thought that he was exploiting a "loophole in the law".

Judge Christopher Elwen said: "It is unlawful and his belief, however honest you think it may be, is not defence to the charges alleged.

"Butt has admitted, on oath, that he was himself an insider, that he had inside information on each specific share, that each share was price-affected in relation to that information, that he instructed his co-defendants to open the particular spread bets on his behalf and that his motive was to make a profit on the movement in the share's price.

"He says that he honestly believed, based on his own researches, that spread betting on individual shares was not contrary to the criminal law."

Butt, 35, leaked information about Royal Bank of Scotland and its takeover of NatWest, along with data about EMI, United News & Media, Chubb, Enodis and other companies.

Butt and his four co-defendants, who claimed he had duped them, were convicted of conspiracy to commit insider trading between 31 July 1998 and 17 January 2002. The charge carries a maximum of seven years' imprisonment. The judge bailed the men until 28 January while pre-sentence reports are prepared, on condition that they surrendered their passports.

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