Friday, June 3, 2011

Insider Trading, Not Just for Men Anymore

Stanford University 1979Image via WikipediaWhile it’s still true that men dominate inside the boardroom, today I want to focus on what happens outside of the boardroom.

Until recently, the world of insider trading has been almost solely a playground for men. Powerful men. Men who, despite their wealth and success, just can’t seem to be happy with what they have.

Women’s names weren’t often associated with insider trading until the infamous Martha Stewart ordeal. I should note that Stewart was convicted only of lying to investigators, and served just five months in jail.

And more recently, there was one female figure that stood out in the Galleon Insider trading scandal. Danielle Chiesi made a name for herself by building close personal (allegedly intimate) relationships with powerful men, in exchange for company secrets, which she then passed on to Raj Rajaratnam, the leader of what is being called the largest insider trader ring ever. Rajartanam, recently convicted, awaits sentencing. Chiesi pled guilty (and is also awaiting sentencing), but arguably she played only a supporting role.

Enter Winifred Jiau, a 43-year native of Taiwan, now an American citizen living in California. We know little about her. She has a master’s degree from Stanford University in statistics. She lives with her dog. She has worked as a consultant, a contractor for Nvidia (one of the companies she is accused of giving tips on), and launched a small start-up. She appears to be exceedingly average (for a Stanford grad), except that she is accused of sharing company secrets, for which she allegedly received $200,000.

Jiau’s trial started this week in Manhattan.

Unlike the women who came before her, Jiau appears to be at the center of this trading ring, causing some to call her the “expert networker” and putting her in the same class as Rajaratnam.

I can’t help but wonder what Jiau’s motivation was to enter the male dominated field of insider trading. Until recently it seems that women haven’t been invited to play, or are they simply not interested in playing. Could Jiau have been driven by a desire for acceptance, equality, or power? Could a lack of acceptance in the boardroom have caused her to seek acceptance outside of the boardroom?

What do you think?


Liz Fichera said...

Perhaps the motivator is greed? She saw an easy way to make $200,000 rather quickly? Sometimes I wonder why supposedly bright people are not very bright at all.

Carol Kilgore said...

I agree with Liz.

Dave E said...

How do I get started with Insider trading? Seems to be far more lucrative than the regular kind and, like car speeders, for every one that gets caught, there are probably hundreds that drive right on by.
Of course, like speeding, if you do it often enough the law of averages say that one day your time will come so I am guessing the secret is to get in, make your money and get out.
Is there a book on Amazon yet on this lucrative opportunity?

Dave E said...

Found it:

Insider Trading for Dummies

OK, not really. Gotta love the internet though for the ability to create stuff like this!

Colette said...

LOL -- Dave E, yes, I assume it is pretty lucrative. I suspect there are a lot more cases we never hear about. A book on "How to Become an Insider Trader" could be a great humor book.
OR -- I bet we'll see memoirs of some of those who are convicted. I vow not to buy them -- I'd rather support honest writers.

One Womans Eye said...

As is often the case in a business climate that is so male dominated women find themselves drawing more heavily on their masculine side than their feminine to succeed. My guess is she was doing exactly that and to such an extreme she fell completely out of balance and developed that "no one is ever going to catch me" power syndrome. She kept running with it until she got caught.