Silicon Valley Bank CEO Greg Becker sold nearly $30 million of stock over the past two years, raising new questions over insider stock sales.
Becker sold $3.6 million worth of shares on Feb. 27, just days before the bank disclosed a large loss that triggered its stock slide and collapse. The sale capped two years of stock sales by Becker that totaled $29.5 million, according to data from Smart Insider. He sold at prices ranging from $287 a share to $598 a share.
Becker also purchased options, at lower exercise prices, as part of many of the sales and maintained his equity ownership stake.
Other executives at SVB, including Chief Marketing Officer Michelle Draper, Chief Financial Officer Daniel Beck and Chief Operating Officer Philip Cox, also sold millions of dollars worth of shares since 2021.
Altogether, SVB executives and directors cashed out of $84 million worth of stock over the past two years, according to Smart Insider.
The sales have sparked criticism of SVB’s management — as well as the broader phenomenon of insider stock sales before major declines. Rep. Ro Khanna — a Democrat from California, where the tech-focused bank was based — said Becker should return the money to depositors.
“I have said that there should be a clawback of that money,” Khanna tweeted Monday. “Whatever his motives, and we should find out, that $3.6 million should go to depositors.”
Greg Becker, chief executive officer of Silicon Valley Bank, participates in a panel discussion during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.
Lauren Justice | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Becker’s share sales were part of a scheduled program, known as a 10b5-1 plan, that was filed on Jan. 26, according to SEC filings. The 10b5-1 plans allow insiders to schedule stock sales ahead of time to reduce concerns over trading on insider information. Yet SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has said the plans are rife with abuse, with insiders selling right after filing the plans, creating overlapping or multiple plans and/or by creating one-off scheduled sales.
The SEC created new rules, which took effect Feb. 27 and apply to plans filed April 1. The rules include more disclosure, transparency and timelines for scheduled sales. It imposes a 90-day “cooling off period” between the filing date and the first sale.
Under the new rules, Becker’s sales, which came just one month after he filed, would not be allowed.
The SEC sent a strong message to inside sellers last month when it charged Terren Peizer, executive chairman of Ontrak, with insider trading for selling more than $20 million of the company’s stock before it plunged 44%.
The SEC complaint alleges that Peizer knew about the potential loss of the company’s largest customer when he established the selling plan in May 2021.
Becker and other executives at SVB have also come under criticism for receiving their annual bonuses on Friday, a few hours before regulators shuttered the bank. On Sunday, the U.S. government struck a deal to backstop depositors at SVB and crypto-friendly Signature Bank.