Ever wonder how perfectly good citizens find themselves committing felonious securities fraud?
The Wall Street Journal took a closer look at a little-noticed insider trading trial this week. It all started so innocently!
In November 2004, Ernst & Young partner James Gansman logged on to Ashleymadison.com, a Web site for people in search of extramarital affairs.
: another thing about online dating we wouldn’t know if it weren’t for the world’s premier business news organisation!)
Anyway, pretty soon Gansman found a mistress named Donna Murdoch in Philadelphia. They shared weekend tête-à-têtes in fancy hotels and more than 7,000 phone calls over the years, which doesn’t sound particularly “discreet.”
But their most intimate moments were, like those of so many modern lovers, spent soundlessly staring at computer screens:
Eventually the two settled into a comfortable day-to-day routine in their respective offices in New York and Philadelphia, staring at the same Yahoo Finance screen. Mr. Gansman led Ms. Murdoch in a guessing game about which deals he was working on, she said.
“The game was that I wouldn’t be looking and he would give me hints: The market cap of two billion or market cap of 400 billion, and here’s what they do, and he’d read it to me, and ultimately make sure I guessed,” Ms. Murdoch testified. Before long, the guessing game fell away. Mr. Gansman told her more directly about upcoming deals of Ernst clients, she said.
It would have been even more romantic had Murdoch not had to tap the dark AshleyMadison liquidity pool, unbeknownst to Gansman, for another married guy to help leverage her bets–to help her and her husband pay off a $1.45 million subprime loan. His name was Richard Hansen, and he gave Murdoch a job — and she gave him Gansman’s stock tips.
Our favourite bit of the saga, though, is this bit of commentary:
This is how life really happens, and how it gradually, almost unexpectedly, can veer out of control.
Yes, this is how life really happens… in the distopian age of incessant electronic communication, an unlimited marketplace of potential mates fitting every imaginable set of circumstances, proclivities and fetishes, and unlimited access to easy credit! Can we go back to Geocities and Glass-Steagall please?
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