Former Funcom CEO charged with market manipulation and insider trading

    
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No one weekend should have all that power.

Reuters reports that former Funcom CEO Trond Arne Aas has been charged by The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime with “market manipulation and insider trading, focusing on a nine-month period in 2011-2012.”

Three additional people are charged with insider trading in relation to Funcom. Lawyers for the accused are maintaining their clients’ innocence.

Trond Arne Aas resigned from his CEO role at Funcom in 2012 on the very same day that The Secret World launched, after which he sold off a significant portion of his stocks, prompting the Norwegian authorities to investigate. In January of 2014, Funcom’s offices were raided by the Norwegian economic crime unit in connection with its securities fraud investigation.

To be clear, we have no specific reason to believe that modern Funcom has any culpability here, but we have reached out to the studio for a statement. (See below for the update and response.)

Source: Reuters. With thanks to ZenDadaist.

Update 4 p.m. EST: Oslo-based Dagens Næringsliv reports this afternoon that the other defendants charged as part of the “pump and dump” scheme this week are all either former Funcom employees or board members: former CFO Bjorn Ottar Toften, former sales and marketing director Morten Schjelle Larsen, and former deputy board head Torleif Ahlsand.

“The indictment describes how Funcom in the period from 26 October 2011 on numerous occasions announced incorrect, selected and/or incomplete information likely to create expectations and perceptions that [The Secret World] would generate and/or generated revenues in line with the ‘Target scenario,'” the paper writes.

Toften’s attorney has chalked Tuesday’s charges up to ØKOKRIM activism: “We see too often that ØKOKRIM is driving cases based on how they think the laws should be rather than how the law actually is. This is to try to get the boundaries of what is punishable extended.”

It appears that the indictments were handed down a year ago, but the charges were levied this week.

(Translations via Google.)

Update 5:30 p.m. EST: A spokesperson for Funcom has issued the following statement to Massively OP:

“The four individuals charged in this case are no longer employed by Funcom. As Funcom is neither charged or under investigation in this matter, it will not have any impact on the company, our games, or our players.”

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Mankeybone
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Mankeybone

Darkdrakke BritoBruno ntellect Dunno where you get that “guilty until proven innocent” crap. The presumption of innocence is protected in both Norwegian and European law – and is actually something the US picked up from Europe in the first place.
If his intention was to take advantage of inflated stock expectations, waiting a year would have been pretty foolish too – that would imply that he had confidence in the inflated expectations of the game (and would defeat the purpose of the alleged market manipulation in the fist place).

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

breetoplay Zardoz1972 ManastuUtakata Geering “Aas wouldn’t have allegedly committed a criminal act.” ;) Innocent until they announce he’s heading to the slammer and all that. ;)

Zardoz1972
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Zardoz1972

Crime requires a victim. There is no victim from selling stock while it is at an elevated price. In his case it was because by being a high executive he is considered as having inside information. But, he could still be found innocent. There are issues of what he knew and how to prove he knew it. I never said, “If the game was better”. The game is great. It was just not set up to make money properly.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Zardoz1972 ManastuUtakata Geering breetoplay Yes, if only the game had been better, Aas wouldn’t have committed a criminal act. It’s the game’s fault. :P

thegirlwiththehair
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thegirlwiththehair

ManastuUtakata BringDaAmblamps A Dad Supreme “Off-Topic: Wants those pill chair thingies. <3”

No you don’t, they were hella uncomfortable.

Zardoz1972
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Zardoz1972

ManastuUtakata Geering breetoplay Zardoz1972 This thing is different than you may think. This Aas had a lot of stock. He had zero faith in the game as a money maker. So while the stock price was elevated and expectations high…he resigned and cashed out. Most of us would have done the same. I’m not so upset about him doing this. I’m upset that they had so little faith in their game. I feel the game is great. BUT, was not monetized properly. They should have had subscriber benefits and loyalty rewards from day 1. They should have sold mounts and housing from day one. Their End Game should have been based around territorial control like Anarchy Online Tower Wars. PVP requires much less development than Raids. 

The game was just not designed in a way to make money.

Geering
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Geering

crawlkill Geering Zardoz1972 Yes, you can.
I like FunCom games a lot, even if I strongly dislike their practices.

BryanCo
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BryanCo

Darkdrakke BryanCo ntellect  That was sorta my point though I didn’t make it very clear I guess.  The clueless seem to think that a corporation is some sort of fantasy dark lord with motives both evil and unfathomable.  I wasn’t excusing the charges based on some idea that stockholders are all fat cats, I was pointing out that it was the people the defendants were working for that were their alleged victims.

The Guilty Party
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The Guilty Party

ntellect You realize corporations consist of people, right? I’m all for effective regulation of markets and companies and whatnot, but it’s nonsensical to blame ‘corporations’.

crawlkill
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crawlkill

Geering Zardoz1972 you can appreciate the work someone does without appreciating their business practices, although I personally have never had any problems with Funcom. I might feel differently if I had.