Sunday, July 26, 2009

Something or nothing? You decide: Kuwaiti broker dies only days after SEC files suit

(Burned and wet dollar by gothick_matt via

Maybe this is something, maybe it’s nothing; maybe it's only a movie script waiting to happen.

There’s a rash of stories today about the “apparent” suicide of Kuwaiti broker Hazem Khalid al-Braikan, found shot to death in his home Sunday morning Kuwait time.

Seems al-Braikan had been involved in running up the price of stock(s) in fake takeover attempts; he bought up enough stock that it appeared someone was going to take controlling interest of a firm, then dumped the stock after the price had run up because other firms bought into the uptick.

The SEC had filed a lawsuit against al-Braikan’s firm and several others on Thursday this week, for alleged trading “around hoax bids for US companies.”

Textron, a firm which has historically had government contracts, was one of the firms in which al-Braikan had been trading earlier this year.

The most recent stock in which al-Braikan took an initial position on June 1 and sold out on July 20?

Harman International.

You may recognize the name Harman, of course; the firm was founded in 1978 by Rep. Jane Harman's (D-CA) spouse, Sidney Harman. Sidney stepped down as CEO of the firm in 2007, replaced as part of a turn-around plan in advance of a planned buyout by KKR and Goldman Sachs. KKR and Goldman backed out, however. The CEO stepped up to the chairmanship the following year, with Sidney retaining only an honorific position with the firm.

Rep. Harman's 2007 financial report reflected holdings including as much as $200 million in Harman International stock along with a half-million in the same firm's retirement plan.

Is this something or is it nothing, purely coincidental that a now-dead Kuwaiti broker picked on Harman International? Who knows...but SEC sure can hustle and take action when it wants to, can’t it? it was only 3 days between the time the accumulated positions were dumped and the SEC filed suit…

[Cross-posted at FDL's The Seminal]

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