UBS exec and friend accused of insider trading spent thousands at Mayfair club, court hears

24 April 2019 00:00

A trader accused of profiting from illicit deal tips regularly spent thousands of pounds at a high-end nightclub with a UBS compliance officer who supplied the information, a London court heard today .

Walid Choucair, 40, is accused by the Financial Conduct Authority of making more than 1 million ($1.3 million) in profits from trades between June 2013 and June 2014 that were based on confidential information about five company takeovers from Fabiana Abdel-Malek, 38.

The pair are in the second week of a trial at Southwark Crown Court on charges of five counts of insider trading, which carries a maximum jail sentence of seven years.

They deny the charges, which 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, said today that Abdel-Malek would regularly access UBS's database to gather price-sensitive information with the intent of passing it to Choucair. He placed all his five trades through his business, Elstan Company, McGuinness said.

Elstan was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 2006, but moved its location to Geneva the same year and remained there throughout the indictment period, the prosecutor told the court.

— Out at Tramp —

Choucair has been a member of Tramp nightclub in London's Mayfair district since June 2001 and has visited it every fortnight since, the club’s general manager David Fleming said in evidence today.

Membership currently costs 1,000 pounds a year, but Choucair only pays 500 pounds as members don't have their rates increased, Fleming said.

Receipts provided by the nightclub show that on March 9, 2013, Choucair paid a bill for 8,783 pounds for “Fabiana and her friends,” Choucair's lawyer Richard Wormald said.

Another receipt shows that on a later night out with Abdel-Malek in 2013, Choucair bought four bottles of Cristal champagne, “which implies quite a party,” said Wormald.

Fleming agreed that Choucair’s spending habits were “very typical” of the club's members.

Tramp, Wormald said, is a “big club, big tables, lots of money being paid by lots of people.” He told the jury that “there was a famous occasion where you had not one, but three James Bonds in the basement of Tramp at the same time, by coincidence.”

The case continues.

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