A former UBS compliance officer accused of insider trading had “no motive and no money” pegged to the alleged crime, a court has heard.
Fabiana Abdel-Malek has been accused of disclosing price-sensitive information regarding five company takeovers to her family friend and trader, Walid Choucair, between June 2013 and June 2014, allowing him to make more than £1m in profit.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), prosecuting, has charged each of the defendants with five counts of insider trading, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Both deny the charges.
The charges relate to trading in the shares of Kabel Deutschland Holding, BRE Properties, Elizabeth Arden, NorthStar Realty Finance and Targa Resources.
John McGuinness, prosecuting for the FCA, told Southwark Crown Court that Abdel-Malek was in a position of trust at UBS and that her accessing of records and price-sensitive information “corresponds with contact with Mr Choucair”, whom she was communicating with via a pay-as-you-go mobile phone.
“Take all of that together and the clear inference is that she accessed price-sensitive information and passed that information on to him, and he started trading in the stocks.”
Richard Wormald QC, representing Choucair, said the prosecution’s case was “flawed and circumstantial” and lacked direct evidence of price-sensitive information on Choucair’s mobile phone or at his address.
“We say it is weak,” he said. “In Abdel-Malek’s case, there is simply no motive…No messages, no meetings, and for Miss Abdel-Malek, no money.”
Wormald said Choucair got his information from other sources, including other traders, financial journalists and the Pakistani billionaire Alshair Fiyaz, the buyer of Roman Abramovich’s lavish yacht.
A secret recording of Choucair discussing one of the deals with Fiyaz only emerged because the billionaire was already being tapped by investigators, Wormald said.
Abdel-Malek’s barrister, Julian Christopher, said his client was “bright” and “ambitious” and was seen at the bank as having “great potential”.
“She had nothing to gain by doing what the prosecution claims but everything to lose,” he said.
The trial continues.