Insider trader escapes jail term for propping up mother's super

IN JANUARY, Justin Hugh O'Brien had a wife, a baby, a house, a respected position with Computershare subsidiary Georgeson - and a guilty secret that he'd made $54,000 in insider trading trying to prop up his widowed mother's superannuation account.

IN JANUARY, Justin Hugh O'Brien had a wife, a baby, a house, a respected position with Computershare subsidiary Georgeson - and a guilty secret that he'd made $54,000 in insider trading trying to prop up his widowed mother's superannuation account.

Supreme Court Judge Clifford Hoeben yesterday said while O'Brien's wife remained supportive, the financial stress has meant the house was about to be sold, publicity had created "irreparable damage to his professional reputation", and O'Brien's prospects of employment in the financial industry were "poor".

He said while the seriousness of the offences committed between June last year and January this year demanded a term of imprisonment, the two-year sentence would be served by way of an intensive correction order in the community.

O'Brien, 41, was director of business development for Georgeson, until his insider trading in four companies was detected in January by Australian Securities and Investment Commission market surveillance operations. He pleaded guilty to the charges co-operated with the authorities, and paid a pecuniary penalty equal to his profits.

Justice Hoeben said O'Brien had not personally benefited from the $54,000 profit realised, but had traded to build the value of his mother's superannuation account which had been "severely depleted" by the global financial crisis.

"While this does not excuse the offending, it is to be contrasted with other offences of this kind which had as their motivation greed and the acquisition of personal wealth," the judge said. He said in O'Brien's case the offences were at the "lower end".

O'Brien is required to remain under the direction of a supervisor regarding his residence, activities, movements and community service obligations.

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