Day Trader's Lawyer at UBS Trial Asks Jury to Follow the Money
(Bloomberg) -- A defense lawyer in the U.K.’s first insider-dealing trial in two years asked the jury to "follow the money" when considering a verdict on a case he said contained only circumstantial evidence.
In his closing arguments, Richard Wormald, the attorney for day trader Walid Choucair, told a London jury that his client was trading on tips he got from associates and not from his co-defendant, former UBS Group AG compliance officer, Fabiana Abdel-Malek. What’s more, he said, the others made much more money than he did and the prosecution didn’t have any evidence that Abdel-Malek profited at all.
While Choucair made about $1.6 million on three trades in 2013 and 2014, Monaco-based multimillionaire Alshair Fiyaz made nearly $8 million and Nathaniel Glas made $2.3 million on the same trades, Wormald said.
"If you want to know the truth in the case, follow the money," Wormald said. "There are people that the prosecution didn’t tell you about: Fiyaz, (Alexis) Kuperfis and Glas made money, lots of money, more the Mr. Choucair. Miss Abdel-Malek made no money. Money talks, but she didn’t."
The jury is due to start deliberating the case Thursday against Choucair and Abdel-Malek, who each are charged with five counts of insider trading in 2013 and 2014. Choucair allegedly made 1.4 million pounds ($1.8 million) from trading on tips Abdel-Malek gave him. Both deny the charges, saying they were only social friends.
The prosecution has said that Choucair gave Abdel-Malek access to a more "glamorous" lifestyle by taking her, and her friends and family to his exclusive Mayfair club. That was a "pathetic" attempt to find a motive for Abdel-Malek, who would’ve been risking a successful career at the bank, Wormald said.
"We haven’t got a penny piece being paid to Miss Abdel-Malek," Wormald said. "We haven’t got bank transfers to her. We haven’t got her living a lavish lifestyle. This is the elephant in the room in our case."
Wormald said the overlap between Choucair’s trades and the searches Abdel-Malek did on the UBS deals database was so small that it didn’t make for a compelling case. He also said that the prosecution relied on the pair meeting to prove three of their counts and that there was no evidence they had done so on these occasions.
Earlier, Wormald said a transcript of recording of a meeting between Choucair and Fiyaz at the Four Seasons hotel in London in June 2014 was a "bombshell," which shows that he doesn’t have the kind of inside information that the prosecution alleges he received from Abdel-Malek.
During their conversation, Choucair called a Bloomberg journalist to discuss a potential deal of Targa Resources Corp. The jury hasn’t heard who made the recording, though it was part of an investigation into Fiyaz. Neither the journalist nor Fiyaz can be heard on the recording.
“If this document doesn’t frighten you then perhaps you haven’t been listening," Wormald said, referring to the transcript of the recording. "It is not consistent with guilt. This blows the Targa count out of the water.”
According to the transcript, Wormald said, Choucair doesn’t appear aware of what company is planning to buy Targa, what the value of the deal is, or when it is due to take place, all things he would’ve known if Abdel-Malek had been feeding him information.
A day away from thinking over its verdict, the jury asked the judge to provide guidance on how to come to their verdicts, given that the evidence is circumstantial.
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