Tucked into an announcement about three other insider trading cases, Manhattan federal prosecutors said on Thursday that they had brought indictments against three men who allegedly wrongfully capitalized on confidential information related to the launch of President Trump’s social media venture Truth Social.
Prosecutors with the Southern District of New York obtained an indictment, also made public today, for three investors over insider trading in the effort to take the Trump social media venture public.
One of the three charged — Bruce Garelick — served on the board of Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC), a SPAC that, per the deal, was set to merge with Truth Social’s parent company. Two others, Michael and Gerald Shvartsman, also face charges.
Prosecutors say that the three had early information about DWAC’s plan to buy Trump Media & Technology Corp. (TMTG), which owns Truth Social. The three allegedly earned more than $22 million from the scheme, prosecutors said, as the securities they purchased shot upwards once DWAC stated publicly that it would merge with the Trump company.
There’s no indication in the indictment that Trump himself was aware of the alleged insider trading. The New York Times reported in December 2021 that a “surge” of trading in DWAC preceded the October 2021 announcement, and in July 2022 reported that word of the impending deal “leaked” months before it was announced.
Prosecutors said that Garelick and the two Shvartsmans were invited to invest in DWAC before the deal was announced, and signed non-disclosure agreements as a condition of receiving important, potentially market-moving information.
The trio allegedly made an initial, private investment in DWAC, after which Garelick received a seat on the firm’s board in July 2021.
From there, prosecutors say, Garelick began to leak information about the company’s plans to merge with the Trump company, allowing his associates “to make lucrative trades in DWAC securities.”
In September 2021, after DWAC executed a letter of intent for the deal with TMTG, Garelick allegedly texted Michael Shvartsman that he had “intelligence to share.” Days later, on Oct. 1, Shvartsman allegedly bought two million DWAC warrants.
In the time from when the trio knew that DWAC was going to merge with TMTG to the announcement in October 2021, they allegedly bought “millions of dollars of DWAC securities in the open market” while passing information about the impending deal to friends and coworkers.
Gerald Shvartsman, who prosecutors said owns an outdoor furniture store, allegedly told two of his employees about the impending deal. Both employees purportedly bought thousands of DWAC warrants each, and spread the information to friends and family.
A Trump spokesperson posted a press released on Twitter on Oct. 20 announcing the deal.
After that, prosecutors said, the trio sold their shares.
Prosecutors said that Michael Shvartsman sold the shares for a whopping $18.2 million from the sales, while Gerald received $4.6 million. Garelick, the board member, sold his shares for $49,702. Prosecutors want the trio to give up the proceeds of the alleged scheme.