Freudian Slip-Up Leads to SEC Charges

Well this is crazy: the SEC busted a Seattle-area therapist today for insider trading based on information he picked up while in session with one of his patients.

According to an SEC complaint filed today, Keith Peer, 43, had a patient in 2015 who was an employee at Zulily, an online retailer. Zulily was in talks at that time to be acquired by Liberty Interactive (yes, that Liberty Interactive, run by media mogul John Malone), and somehow that detail came out while this employee was baring his or her inner fears to Peer.

Peer then engaged in a series of stock trades, investing in Zulily before the Liberty deal became public knowledge. Over the course of several weeks in July and August, Peer scooped up more than 2,000 shares of Zulily at a cost of roughly $28,000.

Then news of the Liberty deal was announced on Aug. 17, complete with a 49 percent premium that Liberty would pay for Zulily shares. Peer dumped his stock later that morning, and netted $10,230.

Not bad for three weeks of work, except for the part about violating federal securities law and doctor-patient privilege.

Exactly how these allegations came to the SEC’s attention remains unclear. One assumes that the state of Washington will also revisit Peer’s license to practice psychotherapy, especially since Peer gave his patient a written statement at the start of their engagement promising that all information disclosed in session would be kept in confidence.

Peer, meanwhile, faces two charges of insider trading, and now needs professional help of a different sort.

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