Former Amazon Financial Analyst Sentenced to Prison for Insider Trading
Provided Non-Public Information on Financial Results in Exchange for Cash
A former financial analyst at Amazon.com, Inc., was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 6 months in prison, a $2500 fine and two years of supervised release for securities fraud involving insider trading, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. BRETT D. KENNEDY, 27, currently of Blaine, Washington, pleaded guilty in September 2017, admitting that in April 2015, he provided non-public quarterly financial results to a friend who then purchased Amazon stock and sold it at a profit once the results were made public. The friend paid KENNEDY for this inside information. KENNEDY is no longer employed by Amazon. At sentencing Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez said, “This is a serious offense. If the public cannot have confidence in the financial markets it impacts the entire country.”
“Those who trade on inside information fundamentally undermine the trust that is necessary for our financial markets to operate,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “Those responsible – like the defendant in this case – will be held accountable. I commend the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission for their work to ensure that those responsible for this type of financial crime are held to account.”
According to the information filed in the case, KENNEDY began work as a financial analyst at Amazon in 2013. As part of his employment he signed a confidentiality statement that he would not disclose Amazon’s non-public financial information outside the company. The policy specifically mentions information such as earnings and losses as material confidential information. In April 2015, KENNEDY used his access to view and write down Amazon first quarter earnings that were going to be announced later in the month. KENNEDY provided this information to his friend. After viewing the information, the friend purchased 4400 shares of Amazon stock for $1.7 million. When the positive earnings news was announced publicly, and the stock price rose, the friend sold the shares for a gain of nearly $116,000. The friend paid KENNEDY $10,000 in cash for the information.
Speaking to the court, Kennedy apologized to his family and to Amazon saying, “I threw my success away in an instant . . . I wish every day I could go back and not be so stupid and reckless.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against KENNEDY. In its complaint it identifies the friend as Maziar Rezakhani, and names him as a defendant. Rezakhani, 28, is currently serving a five year prison term for defrauding a bank, Apple, Inc., and various shipping and insurance companies. The insider trading investigation grew out of the investigation into Rezakhani’s frauds. The SEC is seeking disgorgement of all profits from Rezakhani’s alleged illegal trading. KENNEDY agreed to a settlement with the SEC. Details of the SEC action are available here.
The case was investigated by the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian Werner.