NASD Fines Analyst $75,000 for Circulating Rumor
Washington, D.C.— NASD announced today that it has censured and fined Walter P. Piecyk, Jr., of Harrison, NY, $75,000 for circulating a false and sensational rumor about RF Micro Devices, Inc., on Aug. 22, 2002.
Piecyk, a research analyst with Fulcrum Global Partners LLC in New York, circulated a negative rumor that RF Micro Devices’ largest client, Nokia Corporation, was delaying equipment orders to the company. Piecyk did not conduct a reasonable inquiry into whether there was a basis for the rumor. He circulated the rumor via instant messages and telephone calls to at least eight of Fulcrum’s institutional clients. As he circulated the rumor, Piecyk sold short a total of 3,000 shares of RF Micro Devices. Piecyk closed his short position in October 2002, earning a profit of $7,815.
RF Micro Devices’ stock price declined during the morning of August 22, 2002, by about 10 percent, due at least in part to the rumor. The company had to publicly deny the rumor in the afternoon and the market price recovered before the end of the day. Trading volume in RF Micro Devices that day was over 23 million shares, more than double the average daily volume of over 10 million shares during the preceding six months.
RF Micro Devices, Inc., of Greensboro, North Carolina, designs, develops, and manufactures proprietary radio frequency integrated circuits, primarily for wireless communications products and applications. RF Micro Devices has been listed on the Nasdaq National Market since June 1997 and has been included in the Nasdaq 100 Index. Piecyk covers wireless telecommunications companies, including Nokia, but not semiconductor manufacturers, such as RF Micro Devices, a supplier to telecommunications companies.
Piecyk’s failure to conduct a reasonable inquiry into the rumor and his circulating the rumor to his firm’s clients constituted a violation of NASD Conduct Rule 2110, which obligates members to observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade. In settling this matter, Piecyk neither admitted nor denied the charges.
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