White-collar cases may be on the decline in the Trump era, but the number of insider trading cases against Big Law professionals has risen in recent years.
Donna Hutchinson, a former legal assistant at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg in Toronto, was accused late last year of tipping off individuals about deals that the leading Canadian firm was working on for corporate clients. Last week, Hutchinson reached a settlement with the Ontario Securities Commission, a regulatory agency based in Toronto.
The deal, as noted by The Globe and Mail and documents filed in late April with the OSC, bars Hutchinson from trading for two years. Hutchinson was accused of passing on information related to six pending transactions, including three major deals announced in 2014: Burger King Worldwide Inc.’s $11.4 billion buy of Canadian coffee and donut king Tim Hortons Inc., Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Ltd.’s $45 billion hostile bid for Allergan Inc. and Canadian heavy oil producer Baytex Energy Corp.’s $2.6 billion acquisition of Australia’s Aurora Oil & Gas Ltd.
Cameron Cornish, Hutchinson’s ex-boyfriend and a former trader at Brant Securities in Toronto, is accused of passing on Hutchinson’s stock tips to two friends, Patrick Caruso and David Sidders. The OSC’s case against all three men continues.
Davies Ward was not accused of any wrongdoing in the case against Hutchinson and the three other men. But Hutchinson is the second individual once associated with the firm to be accused of insider trading in recent years.
In August 2015, former Davies Ward partner Mitchell Finkelstein was slapped with a $338,000 fine by an OSC panel that found him liable for tipping off a former fraternity brother to upcoming M&A deals involving the firm.
The American Lawyer reported in February on Walter “Chet” Little, a former partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings and Foley & Lardner, being sentenced to more than two years in prison for his role in an insider trading scheme that he pleaded guilty to last year.