Stern Alumnus Sentenced for Insider Trading — With Minimal Consequences

An NYU Stern alumnus, Bill Tsai, was charged this January for profiting nearly $100,000 after trading using secret information acquired through his role as a junior analyst at RBC Capital Markets.


Chelsea Li

2018 Stern graduate Bill Tsai who pleaded guilty to insider trading last year, was charged last week. (Staff Photo by Chelsea Li, Staff Illustration by Charlie Dodge)

By Emily Mason, News Editor

Stern alumnus Bill Tsai will spend 90 days in a community reentry center, be placed under five-year probation, fined $100 and forfeit his illicit earnings, according to court documents.

Bill Tsai was arrested one year after graduating from Stern for illegally earning $100,000 off the stock market, using knowledge he acquired through his junior analyst position at RBC Capital Markets. Tsai learned of Sirius Capital Group’s plan to buy a digital printing company — Electronics for Imaging — and bought call options in EFI before the purchase raised the company’s stocks’ value from $29.40 to $38, allowing Tsai to turn a profit.

Tsai pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud in federal criminal court last November. The average sentence for securities and investment fraud is four and a half years in prison, and Tsai himself faced up to five years. But the judge allowed Tsai to avoid jail in the ultimate ruling.

On Jan. 17, Tsai’s criminal case concluded with a five-year probation sentence, order to spend 90 days in a halfway house, order to forfeit $125,997, and a $100 fine, according to court documents. The civil case filed against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission barred Tsai from further violating federal securities laws and ordered him to adhere to his criminal case’s forfeiture order.

“As alleged in our complaint, Tsai reaped nearly $100,000 in illicit profits by misusing highly confidential information entrusted to him,” Joseph G. Sansone, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit, said in a press release. “Using our enhanced analysis and detection capabilities, the SEC was able to act swiftly, exposing Tsai’s misconduct just months after his illegal trading took place.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, February 3, 2020, print edition. Email Emily Mason at [email protected]