Friday, December 30, 2005

CTV is reporting that there were leaks 

Updating my earlier post, now CTV is reporting that emails about Goodale's announcement were buzzing around the Toronto investment community on the afternoon of the Income Trust announcement. Sounds like this is a lot more than just an "unconscious" leaker. And it sounds like some people made some serious money:
Several people in the investment community told CTV they got the heads up that news was coming that day, and that the information originated from Liberals in Ottawa. Jim Leech, a Vice President who manages the Ontario Teacher's Pension Fund, says he heard definitively that afternoon, from several sources, that the announcement would come after 4 p.m. "I got a bunch of emails (and calls) around 2 p.m. saying for sure that he (Goodale) was making an announcement after the close," said Leech.
Don Drummond, Chief Economist for the TD Bank, says he got the first email sometime around 2 p.m., from a media contact who had heard from "Liberal Party and government sources that he (Goodale) was going to make an announcement at 5 p.m." Drummond's contact did not seem to know exactly the announcement would be, just that it would happen that day. Drummond says he got similar information from a source within his bank, also before 4 p.m. (when the markets close). He believes the original sources of the information were "definitely" not within Goodale's office, but elsewhere in the Liberal government. "I heard it secondhand, but not from Finance," said Drummond. "Liberal strategists were the sources ... from Ottawa. A lot of people seemed to know there was an announcement (coming) and some people seemed to know what it was," he added.
Another fund manager, Sandy McIntyre of Sentry Select Capital Corp, said he was tipped off twice, by phone, by two traders who work for two of Canada's major banks. The first call came before noon that day. McIntyre said the trader who called was told by "an individual well-connected in the Liberal Party" that Goodale would be making his announcement after the close of trading. According to McIntrye, the second trader was also tipped off by a Liberal from Ottawa, who said, "The announcement coming that day would be positive." At 3:04 p.m. that day, McIntyre then sent this email to sales staff, with the subject heading "Goodale": "There is a strong rumour out of Ottawa that Goodale is going to pronounce after the close today re his trust solution. The rumour indicates the results will be benign. Hope my sources are right!" The following day, November 24, McIntyre sent another email -- this time to his contact at the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) -- calling for an investigation.
McIntrye wrote to the OSC: "I feel the events of the past 24 hours should not go unexamined. Starting at yesterday morning persistent rumours began to circulate out of Ottawa that Minister Goodale was going to make an announcement concerning the trust issue. The tone of the rumours was that the news would be positive. By mid-afternoon there was confirmation that he would make a statement at 5 p.m. Heavy buying came into the sector in advance of the statement and substantial windfall profits accrued to those who were in receipt of advance notice that a positive decision had been made. Selective disclosure of this nature is unacceptable in the private sector. Why should the public sector be immune?" McIntyre says the OSC then asked him if he wanted to file a formal complaint, but he declined.
It was that spike in trading activity on November 23, though, that first raised questions about a possible leak from government.
The activity also raised questions about who bought stock that afternoon.
CTV found one of the people who invested heavily that day was the CEO of the company that runs the Toronto Stock Exchange, Richard Nesbitt. The details of Nesbitt's purchases are filed on a public website, sedi.ca, where insiders must register any personal stock purchases. Nesbitt's file shows he purchased six blocks of stock in TSX Group Inc., the company he runs, on November 23. Nesbitt bought a total of $759,242.00 worth of stock in the hours before Goodale's announcement. It was the first time he purchased stock in TSX Group Inc, since becoming CEO in 2004. TSX Group Inc. stock then jumped by more than 10 per cent -- the day after Goodale's announcement -- making Nesbitt a paper profit of close to $100,000.00 in one day. The value of TSX Group Inc. stock has continued to increase since. Al Rosen, a forensic accountant with Rosen and Associates, points out TSX Group Inc. benefitted from Goodale's positive news for investors, because it increased confidence in stock in companies listed on the TSX.
Rosen is troubled by Nesbitt's purchase, especially because Nesbitt also sits on the board of Market Regulation Services Inc., the organization which monitors and regulates trading on the TSX. "The person's (Nesbitt's) position as CEO is troublesome, because in a sense, it (the TSX Group) is a regulatory organization."
CTV asked for an interview with Nesbitt, but he was out of town. The TSX Group Inc. sent a statement, which said, in part: "Mr. Nesbitt had absolutely no advance notice of the announcement made by the Department of Finance on November 23." The statement then went on to explain that Nesbitt bought that day because it was within a one week trading window, given to all TSX Group Inc. employees. "It was his last opportunity to add to his core holding in TSX Group Inc. before the end of the calendar year."
Gee -- just lucky, I guess, that he picked that very afternoon . . .
And if it is true that the leaks came from greedy "Liberal strategists" -- people who pushed Goodale to make the announcement and then tipped off a few dozen of their closest friends and party loyalists -- then they have likely just cost Paul Martin the election.

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