Ex-U.S. congressman denies trading on inside info about T-Mobile merger

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(Reuters) – Former U.S. Congressman Stephen Buyer denied trading on inside information he learned as a consultant to T-Mobile US (NASDAQ:TMUS) Inc ahead of its $23 billion merger with Sprint, as he took the stand at his criminal trial on Wednesday.

Buyer was a Republican from Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1993 and 2011 before working as a corporate consultant.

He is accused of using client information to buy Sprint stock before the telecommunications company was acquired by T-Mobile in 2018, and to trade ahead of another client’s impending merger.

Testifying in federal court in New York City Buyer, who was also a lawyer and retired U.S. Army Reserves colonel, denied trading on inside information about either company, saying he had relied on public research.

“I acted boldly and decisively and bought,” he said.

He said in court that he concluded Sprint stock was undervalued and the company was poised for a merger after reading an analyst report from April 2018 that said major Sprint shareholder SoftBank had recently increased its stake in the company by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Prosecutors allege Buyer learned from a T-Mobile executive that the company was in merger negotiations with Sprint before he started trading Sprint stock.

Buyer made more than $100,000 from the Sprint trades, and more than $200,000 on stock in Navigant Consulting Inc, which he purchased before the company was acquired by Guidehouse in 2019, prosecutors say.

The trial will resume on Thursday.