Trader Pinched for $1 Billion Bogus Apple Stock Scheme

Tickers in this article: AAPL

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Former Rochdale Securities trader David Miller has been arrested on charges of wire fraud in connection with large purchases of Apple (AAPL) shares.

Connecticut Attorney General David Fein and the FBI have launched a criminal complaint against Miller, alleging he orchestrated the unauthorized purchase of about $1 billion of Apple stock in a "fraudulent, get-rich scheme that backfired, causing massive losses for his employer."

The losses at Rochdale, discovered in early November, has led the brokerage firm to seek an injection of capital.

According to the complaint, Miller, who worked as an institutional sales trader at Rochdale, executed a trade to buy 1.625 million shares of Apple on Oct. 25, the day the company was scheduled to announce earnings. He, however, falsely represented the order as a customer order to Rochdale.

When the stock price declined after the earnings announcement, Rochdale's customer stated that it ordered only 1,625 shares of Apple. The complaint said Miller falsely claimed that he had ordered many multiples of the order by mistake. Rochdale traded out of the position but lost $5 million.

At the same time he executed the trade, Miller defrauded another broker-dealer into taking a huge short position on the stock. "Through a series of misrepresentations made over the course of several weeks, Miller convinced the broker-dealer to sell 500,000 shares of Apple stock, falsely claiming that he was trading for the account of a company that, in reality, he had no relationship with and for which he was not authorized to trade. It is alleged that Miller engaged in this part of the scheme to hedge against the large purchase of Apple stock he was executing at Rochdale. As a result of the scheme, Miller placed the broker-dealer at risk of sustaining substantial losses," according to the complaint.

Miller surrendered to the FBI in Bridgeport, Conn. The charge for wire fraud carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

"As is so often seen in these types of cases, the alleged criminal conduct of Miller was for personal gain at the expense and detriment of others," FBI Special Agent in Charge Kimberly Mertz said in a statement. "Manipulating and orchestrating stock transactions in such a manner is a very serious criminal offense and its impact can be both devastating and lasting. "

Rochdale Securities employees include well-known bank analyst Richard Bove, who ironically frequently argued that banks have too much capital.

-- Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York.

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