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Securities and Exchange Commission v. Materia

October 1, 1984

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ANTHONY MATERIA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Materia appeals from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Brieant, J.) enjoining him from violating Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-3, and requiring him to disgorge $99,862.50 in unlawfully obtained profits. Affirmed.

Author: Kaufman

Before: KAUFMAN, MESKILL and PIERCE, Circuit Judges.

KAUFMAN, Circuit Judge:

Our era aptly has been styled, and well may be remembered as, the "age of information." Francis Bacon recognized nearly 400 years ago that "knowledge is power," but only in the last generation has it risen to the equivalent of the coin of the realm. Nowhere is this commodity more valuable or volatile than in the world of high finance, where facts worth fortunes while secret may be rendered worthless once revealed.

At a certain point, amorphous data must be translated into the written word. In the financial field, this transmogrification requires masses of information -- much of it highly sensitive -- to be channeled through the financial printing firms that service our great commercial centers. It was in one such firm the Anthony Materia worked. Materia stole information to which he was privy in his work, and traded on that information to his pecuniary advantage. The Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC" or "Commission") sought -- and the district court granted -- an injunction against Materia, restraining him from such activities in the future and requiring him to disgorge his ill-gotten gains. In light of the broad prophylactic coverage of the antifraud provisions of the securities laws, particularly where they are sought to be enforced by the SEC, we affirm the decision below, and hold that Materia's misappropriation of material nonpublic information, and his subsequent trading on that information, violate Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Recognizing the complexity attendant to an examination of Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5, we find it necessary to set forth the facts in this dispute.

I.

Anthony Materia was employed by Bowne of New York City, Inc. (Bowne), a firm specializing in the printing of financial documents, including many used by its corporate clients in connection with proposed tender offers. Because even a hint of an upcoming tender offer may send the price of the target company's stock soaring, information regarding the identity of a target is extremely sensitive and zealously guarded. It is customary, therefore, for offerors (or their law firms, which ordinarily draft such documents) to omit information that might tend to identify a target company until the last possible moment. Code names are used, blanks are left to be filled in on the eve of publication, and occasionally misinformation is even included in early drafts. In sum, a quick reading of preliminary versions of these sensitive papers would not reveal the information sought to be guarded.

Anthony Materia did not read such material quickly. In his job as "copyholder," Materia read clients' drafts aloud to a proofreader, who in turn checked to make certain that page proofs conformed to the copy received from the client. If copyholding was Materia's vocation, the stock market appears to have been equally consuming. Notwithstanding scrupulous efforts by Bowne and its clients to keep confidential information confidential,*fn1 Materia was able to divine the identities of at least four tender offer targets in the period between December 1980 and September 1982.*fn2 Within hours of each discovery, he purchased stock, and within days -- after the offer had been made public -- he sold his holdings at substantial gains.

Soon after Materia completed his purchase and sale of securities in the fourth target company, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed an enforcement action, charging that he had violated and was about to violate Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 48 Stats. 881, as amended, 15 U.S.C. §§ 78j(b), 78n(e) (1982), and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-3, 17 C.F.R. §§ 240.10b-5, 240.14e-3 (1983). The basis of its complaint was Materia's trading in securities on the basis of material nonpublic information he had misappropriated from his employer and its clients.*fn3

Following a fourteen-day nonjury trial, Judge Brieant delivered an opinion and order from the bench. He found that Materia had, in fact, traded on the basis of confidential data stolen from Bowne and the offerors. Moreover he explicitly found that Materia had breached a fiduciary duty to his employer and its clients to maintain their confidences. Finally, he concluded that Materia had actual knowledge of this duty, and thus had acted with scienter. Accordingly, Judge Brieant held that Materia had violated Sections 10(b) and 14(e), and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-3. The court issued a permanent injunction, restraining him from continuing violations. In addition, Materia was ordered to disgorge his illegally obtained profits of $99,862.50. Final judgment was entered on Judge Brieant's order, and Materia timely filed this appeal.

II.

At the outset, the nature and procedural posture of this action bear description, for they delineate the parameters of our inquiry. This suit was brought, not by an investor injured as a result of Materia's connivances, but by the Securities and Exchange Commission -- the governmental body charged by law with the protection of our financial markets.

The sweeping mandate manifest in the securities laws would be all but meaningless were it not for the broad investigatory and enforcement powers created under the statutory scheme. Our inquiry today is directed to Section 21(d) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. § 78u(d) (1982), which empowers the Commission to seek a "temporary or permanent injunction" against "any person [who] is engaged or is about to engage in acts or practices constituting a violation" of the securities laws. A trial judge is vested with considerable discretion in granting injunctive relief pursuant to this section. There need be only a reasonable likelihood that the activity complained of will be repeated. See SEC v. Manor Nursing Centers, Inc., 458 F.2d 1082, 1102 (2d Cir. 1972). Moreover, once the equity jurisdiction of the district court properly has been invoked, the court has power to order all equitable relief necessary under the circumstances. See Chris-Craft Industries, Inc. v. Piper Aircraft Corp., 480 F.2d 341, 390 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 910, 38 L. Ed. 2d 148, 94 S. Ct. 231, (1973). Such discretion in fashioning appropriate remedies is a necessary (if unspoken) concomitant of the legislative grant of power to enforce the laws. The Supreme Court has written:

When Congress entrusts to an equity court the enforcement of prohibitions contained in a regulatory enactment, it must be taken to have acted cognizant of the historic power of equity to provide ...


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