MediaFile

Bonnie and Yonni — Disney dynamic duo, immortalized

Bonnie and Yonni are unlikely to go down in the history books as among the nimblest of partners-in-crime. But they might have earned a prominent place among the most candid.

Accoding to U.S. prosecutors, Bonnie Hoxie — an assistant to Disney’s PR chief — and boyfried Yonni Sebbag hatched a less-than-elaborate scheme in which she gets her hands on confidential and potentially stock market-moving material   –  Disney financial information — and passes it on to Sebbag.  Like the Wall Street equivalent of a pusher, Sebbag set out to construct a network of hedge-fund consumers for that info who could  then profit off of it, according to court documents filed.

Set for life. Easy.

Thing is, on the day of the alleged crime (the release of Disney’s second quarter earnings), Hoxie — according to prosecutors — sent messages to Sebbag from her work email account and from her personal cellphone.  Several of the hedge funds contacted by Sebbag — perhaps spooked by the ever-widening fallout from the Galleon insider trading probe — went straight to the Feds. Sebbag himself got fooled by an undercover FBI agent into a face-to-face meeting in New York during which money allegedly changed hands. He told the agent he’d suspected others that had contacted him of being Feds (he was right there).

According to legal filings, Sebbag in his letter to hedge funds made no bones about what he was trying to do.

“I have access to Disney’s quarterly earnings report before its release on 05/03/10. I am willing to share this information for a fee that we can determine later,” a rather frank Sebbag wrote in his email, according to prosecutors.

from Summit Notebook:

SEC’s Schapiro says journalist job cuts worrying

Mary Schapiro, America's new top cop for the securities industry, said the current mass culling of journalists' jobs is a concern because it could reduce the number of leads that regulators get as they seek to crack down on nefarious behavior.

"It's an absolute worry for me because I think financial journalists have in many cases been the sources of some really important enforcement cases and really important discovery of practices and products that regulators should be profoundly concerned about," the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission told the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in Washington on Tuesday.

"But for journalists having been dogged and determined and really pursuing some of these things, they might not be known to the regulators or they might not be known for a long time," she said.

from Summit Notebook:

SEC’s Schapiro shows little interest in Cox’s pet projects

When he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Christopher Cox got slammed by many for failing to protect investors during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, including missing Bernie Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme. Now, to add insult to injury, his successor is showing little interest in his pet projects concerning corporate disclosure and accounting standards, and questioning whether at least one of them is even appropriate.

Cox's interest in forcing listed companies to file financial reports using technology that makes it easier for investors to read and analyze the data became almost an obsession during his time at the SEC from August 2005 until this past January. Indeed, the SEC voted through a rule to require 500 of the largest public companies to begin filing their reports with the technology known as XBRL, or extensible business reporting language, by the middle of this year, with the rest instructed to comply over the following two years.

It is just about the last costly requirement companies want to hear about as they fight for their survival through these doom-laden times. Indeed, in the results of a national survey of CFOs and senior comptrollers conducted by accountants Grant Thornton LLP, that was issued last week, 64 percent of public companies said they had no plans to use XBRL despite the SEC mandate.

Who needs press releases anyway?

BGC Partners apparently does not. The self-described global full-service inter-dealer broker of financial instruments issued this announcement on Tuesday (via press release on the PRNewswire press release service, of course):

In compliance with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent guidance regarding “notice-and-access” news releases, the company plans to discontinue issuance of full-text financial news releases via a wire service and will issue only advisory press releases notifying investors when new and material information is available on its websites.

This came out a few hours after General Motors used its website to disclose news that some people might think material: It is cutting 10,000 jobs. There was no press release issued through the normal distribution services.