November 14

This Day in History

Crime

Nov 14, 1986:

Ivan Boesky confesses to illegal stock trading activity

Wall Street arbitrageur Ivan Boesky pleads guilty to insider trading and agrees to pay a $100 million fine and cooperate with the Securities and Exchange Commission's investigation. "Boesky Day," as the SEC would later call it, was crucial in exposing a nationwide scandal at the heart of the '80s Wall Street boom.

Boesky testified that he had gained his $200 million fortune using illegal inside information about impending mergers to trade stock in the companies involved. As a result of Boesky's confession, subpoenas were issued to some of the world's most famous financiers, including "Junk Bond King" Michael Milken. Boesky's testimony brought Milken and Drexel Burnham Lambert, an investment banking company, to justice for their participation in the illegal schemes. Milken paid over a billion dollars in fines and restitution and was sentenced to 10 years in prison; two years later his sentence was reduced to time served. In addition to his own financial penalty, Boesky received a three-year sentence, 22 months of which he served at Lompoc Federal Prison in California. Following this insider trading scandal, Congress increased the penalties for securities violations.

After prison, Boesky divorced his wife and relocated to La Jolla, California. In contrast to Milken and others involved, Boesky has largely avoided public attention since the scandal, though he has surfaced to testify in still-unresolved legal proceedings. Despite his cooperation with the authorities, Ivan Boesky was demonized as a national symbol of greed and an example of the dangers of '80s-era excess.

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