Warren asks SEC about insider trading in Trump’s Kodak pharmaceuticals announcement

Stock in company started rising before July 28 news

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is questioning the timing of some Kodak stock transactions.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is questioning the timing of some Kodak stock transactions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted August 4, 2020 at 5:30am

Shares of Kodak began to soar last week even before President Donald Trump’s announcement that the company was in line for a $765 million government loan to support the manufacture of pharmaceutical ingredients.

But, was any of the unusual volume attributable to insider trading? That’s what Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants the Securities and Exchange Commission to explore.

“The Monday, July 27, trades are not the only questionable stock trade involving Kodak and the company’s Defense Production Act deal with the Trump administration. The Kodak chairman and other members of Kodak’s board of directors appear to have purchased substantial amounts of company stock last month, ahead of the public announcement, at a time when Kodak and the Trump administration were negotiating the deal in secret,” the Massachusetts Democrat wrote in a letter to SEC Chairman Jay Clayton.

Warren’s letter, dated Monday and shared with CQ Roll Call ahead of its public release, pointed to reporting that some of the stock trading might be attributable to disclosures by local media in upstate New York, but she suggested that should have triggered more transparency by Kodak even before the president’s announcement on July 28.

“While the report may resolve questions about the individuals who purchased the stock after seeing those public disclosures, it also opens up new questions about how Kodak handled
what appears to be ‘non-intentional disclosure of material nonpublic information,’” Warren wrote.

The letter asks Clayton to determine whether the people involved in the July 27 stock trading were aware of the discussions with the White House that led to the agreement under the Defense Production Act.

“To the extent that the individuals who traded in Kodak stock were privy to any nonpublic information, how and from whom did they obtain this information? Did any individuals with knowledge of the loan deliberately or inadvertently share
information with anyone inside or outside of Kodak who was not authorized to have the information?” Warren wrote.

The president’s July 28 announcement caught many by surprise because as Trump himself said, this would be a new field for the Eastman Kodak company.

“With this new agreement, my administration is using the Defense Production Act to provide a $765 million loan to support the launch of Kodak Pharmaceuticals,” Trump said, calling the agreement “a breakthrough in bringing pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the United States.”

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