For the past couple of years, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been busting the chops of insider traders. The mafia doesn’t get this much attention.
From CNBC to David Letterman, all you hear about are investment bankers, hedge fund hot shots and corporate barons who think they can beat the system.
Well, thanks to one guy, Irving R. Regutnick, many of them have.
Regutnick, 41, is the founder of the Insider Traders Review, which thinks it’s The New York Times when it covers the rejuvenated enforcement division of the SEC.
Basically, Regutnick promises his clients that if you do what he tells you, you can get away with murder. And if you get caught, his lawyers will drag out your case until the Republicans come in.
A Georgetown law grad who found that the corporate world wasn’t his gig, he joined the SEC in 1999 as director of research. Newly married with a couple of young kids, the 9-5 hours were perfect.
It was a government job but an interesting one. He wrote — in plain English — one-page summaries of every insider trading case for the SEC’s commissioners to review. After all, they needed something.
When the Democrats won in 2008, Regutnick was ready for a change. The kids were in school. Obama’s boys were obviously going to make a big move on Wall Street, so he made his move.
Instinctively, Irving knew traders and knew their market. He understood this market would pay for information — after all, that’s how they made their living. And, before he left the job, he made a mailing list of every slime ball the SEC had ever considered taking action against. This would be his prospect list.
There was still a problem. How could he protect his subscribers from the feds should he ever be raided?
Well, Regutnick may not have graduated first in his law school class, but he wasn’t a dummy, either. He soon reasoned out a solution.
To get Regutnick’s knowledge, you had to be a Regutnick legal client! The data and updates were a bonus.
As a client, you were protested by the lawyer/client relationship. With a $7,500 annual retainer, each client had access to Regutnick & Associates law library, which became like the Bloomberg of insider trading info. Available 24/7 by the web or Pony Express, he became the go-to guy for the industry. A booming law practice developed naturally.
Though Irving started from a spare bedroom of his suburban Maryland home, he quickly expanded. The firm now occupies 7,000 square feet on K Street in downtown Washington, because clients and showmanship demand it. Further, his twelve $650-$900 attorneys want a nice place to work and good restaurants to lunch at.
As we sat across his table at the Palm, he was a happy man, though he wouldn’t tell me a damn thing about his number of clients, his sales volume or his future plans.
“Let’s just put it this way,” he said.” I know how the SEC thinks and works. I’m merely sharing my knowledge and experience. After all, that’s the Washington way.”
“Well, Mr. Regutnick, you’ve built one hell of a business,” I said. “But I do have one question. Are you ever afraid of, frankly, pissing off the SEC?”
“Hell no! But there is one thing that does scare me.”
“The Republicans finding a credible candidate for 2012. I could lose everything.”
Bill Regardie is the founder of Regardie magazine.