Federal authorities in Pennsylvania have charged a Delaware man with
Christopher Saridakis, 45, of Wilmington, was charged last week with securities fraud over allegations that the senior executive at GSI Commerce Inc. provided material, non-public information regarding the pending acquisition of GSIC by Internet company eBay.
Saridakis was charged via criminal information, which, as opposed to an indictment, generally signals that a defendant intends to plead guilty.
Federal prosecutors allege that on March 20, 2011, Saridakis, who was privy to discussions of a merger, sent a series of text messages to an unidentified person asking if the individual owned any GSIC shares.
The individual replied, “no, but it’s cheap,” after which Saridakis told the person, “you should,” to which the individual reportedly said, “ok.,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia, which announced the charges on April 25.
Two days after the text exchange, while in possession of the inside information, and knowing about Saridakis’ position as a senior executive at GSIC, the person purchased 25,000 shares of GSIC stock on margin for approximately $470,000, the criminal information alleges.
In late June 2011, the individual received $737,500 in exchange for the 25,000 shares of GSIC, which translated to an illicit profit of $260,304, all as a result of the text message exchange between the two, prosecutors contend.
It is said that Saridakis also shared the same non-public information with relatives and a neighbor.
Saridakis faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison plus a $5 million fine, three years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment.
The investigation was headed by Edward J. Hanko, special agent in charge at the Philadelphia office of the FBI.
Scott Friestad, an associate director at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Washington, D.C., office also aided in the case.
The defendant also faces charges in a parallel civil matter by the SEC.