A 27-year-old Indian-origin former security analyst at J P Morgan Securities and two of his friends have been booked on charges of insider trading that netted nearly USD 7,00,000 in illicit profits.
Ashish Aggarwal of San Francisco, Shahriyar Bolandian 26, and Kevan Sadigh, 28 - both of Los Angeles - surrendered on Tuesday to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The trio are named in an indictment that charges each with one count of conspiracy to commit securities and tender offer fraud, 13 substantive counts of securities fraud, 13 substantive counts of tender offer fraud and three substantive counts of wire fraud.
They pleaded not guilty before US Magistrate Judge Patrick Walsh of the Central District of California.
Aggarwal graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2010 with a bachelor's degree and was working as an investment banking analyst in the San Francisco office of J P Morgan Securities from June, 2011 to June, 2013.
According to the indictment, through his employment at J P Morgan, Aggarwal allegedly obtained material, inside information about two J P Morgan-advised deals: Integrated Device Technology's planned acquisition of PLX Technology in 2012 and salesforce.com's acquisition of ExactTarget in 2013.
He repeatedly communicated with Bolandian, his friend since college, in the days and weeks leading up to public announcements about the deals.
Bolandian, in turn, shared the information with Sadigh, also a friend.
Bolandian and Sadigh then allegedly used the inside information to trade in advance of the public announcements of Integrated Device Technology's April 2012 planned acquisition of PLX Technology and Salesforce.com's June 2013 acquisition of ExactTarget.
According to the indictment, Aggarwal, Bolandian and Sadigh netted more than USD 6,72,000 in combined profits from their insider trading scheme.
They used the profits to cover previous trading losses and to repay liabilities incurred by Aggarwal and Bolandian.
Federal regulator Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have filed parallel civil insider trading charges against the three.
"Mr. Aggarwal denies the charges against him. ... and intends to vigorously defend himself against these allegations," a statement from attorney Grant Fondo, who is representing him in the SEC case, said.