Inside The Insider Trading Case Against The Goldman Banker And The NFL Linebacker

Inside The Insider Trading Case Against The Goldman Banker And The NFL Linebacker

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An NFL player’s game plan recently went awry. A Seattle Seahawks linebacker was doing inside trading with a Goldman banker — and got caught. The two pleaded guilty to the charges.

It has been alleged that banker Damilare Sonoiki, also a former “Black-ish” sitcom writer, gave footballer Mychal Kendricks stock tips in exchange for NFL tickets, cash, and time on the set of a music video shoot.

In September 2018, Kendricks, 27, pleaded guilty to insider trading and was released by the Cleveland Browns. Still, after being released by the Browns, he was almost immediately signed to the Seahawks.

Sonoiki, 27, was a junior analyst at Goldman Sachs before becoming a television writer. Sonoiki reportedly gave Kendricks information about mergers and upcoming acquisitions. Sonoiki, a Nigerian immigrant who graduated from Harvard in 2013, worked at Goldman Sachs for almost two years from 2013 to 2015; he was a writer for “Black-ish” in 2015 and 2016.

Damilare Sonoik
FILE – In this June 5, 2018, file photo, Cleveland Browns linebacker Mychal Kendricks watches during NFL football practice in Berea, Ohio. The former investment bank analyst who fed confidential stock tips to NFL player Mychal Kendricks has pleaded guilty to securities fraud. Damilare Sonoiki, who also wrote for the television show “Black-ish” for a season, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)

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Kendricks will be sentenced in January 2019 for the inside trading case — and it involved criminal and civil charges, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission and US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“Kendricks allegedly made $1.2 million in illegal profits through an insider trading scheme devised with Sonoiki after the two met at a party, according to charging documents,” Vox reported.

After meeting Sonoiki at a party, Kendricks got illegal tips from him  about upcoming mergers of four of Goldman’s clients from July 2014 to March 2015. “Mergers often lead to an increase in stock prices, and Kendricks bought call options — a type of security that’s essentially a bet that a stock’s price will go up — on companies that were going to be bought in merger deals before the deal was announced. Sonoiki also set up an online brokerage account that both men could access,” Vox reported.

And in the end, according to the US attorney’s office, Kendricks was about $1.2 million richer from these tips.

“In return, Kendricks allegedly gave Sonoiki tickets to Eagles games and about $10,000 in cash. He also allegedly let him spend an evening on the set of a music video in which Kendricks made a cameo appearance. The video appears to be ‘Maybe’ by Teyana Taylor, released in 2014,” Vox reported.

Kenrick and Sonoiki tried to keep their partnership on the down-low. “The SEC’s complaint says the pair tried to minimize phone calls, used ‘coded language’ in text messages, and talked via FaceTime, which they thought wouldn’t be uncovered,” Vox reported.

Kendricks admitted to insider trading and apologized.

“I deeply regret it,” Kendricks said in a statement. “I invested money with a former friend of mine who I thought I could trust and who I greatly admired. His background as a Harvard graduate and an employee of Goldman Sachs gave me a false sense of confidence.”

He added: “I have worked my tail off since I was 5 years old to become the football player that I am today. I was drawn in by the allure of being more than just a football player. While I didn’t fully understand all of the details of the illegal trades, I knew it was wrong, and I wholeheartedly regret my actions.”

He said was “committed to paying all of the funds gained illegally and accept the consequences of my actions.”

Sonoiki too admitted is guilt, telling a judge he had leaked secrets about impending deals to Kenrick.

Both still face fine of possibly $5 million and criminal charges, of which if convicted they face maximum possible sentences of 25 years in prison.