Billionaire Media Moguls Face DOJ and SEC Scrutiny

    Image copyright: Patrick McMullan/Getty Images [via Daily Mail]

    The Facts

    • Media moguls Barry Diller and David Geffen are under investigation by the SEC and DOJ for lucrative stock trades made in advance of Microsoft's proposed acquisition of video-game maker Activision-Blizzard last month.

    • Diller and Geffen, along with Diller's stepson, Alexander von Furstenberg, placed a large bet on the stock price of Activision by purchasing options contracts 3 days before the deal was announced.

    The Spin

    Libertarian narrative

    This is how capitalism works: three savvy investors pooled their capital to invest in the stock of a company that they thought was undervalued and oversold. They had an investment thesis and it bore out more quickly than anyone could have possibly anticipated.

    Progressive narrative

    This is indeed how capitalism works: the rich and well-connected get richer by any means necessary and no one is held accountable. In this case, they had the bad fortune of purchasing their options contracts from JP Morgan Chase, which was required to report such transactions as part of a 2020 criminal settlement over market-manipulation claims.

    Cynical narrative

    Who goes to jail for white collar crimes? Women like Elizabeth Holmes and Martha Stewart. Our legal system is designed specifically to protect the interests of rich white men like Diller, Geffen, and von Furstenberg.

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