Ex-Clifford Chance lawyer acquitted in FCA insider trading trial

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A former Clifford Chance lawyer has been acquitted of insider trading in a London trial after the judge ruled there was no case to answer.

Suhail Zina was found not guilty by the jury on Friday after the panel was directed by the judge to return that verdict on all nine charges against him, his lawyer and the Financial Conduct Authority, which had brought the case, confirmed to the Financial Times.

“We can confirm that the case against Suhail Zina on all counts is not proceeding,” the FCA said in a statement. “We are unable to comment further due to ongoing legal proceedings.”

Suhail Zina, 36, was on trial at Southwark Crown Court with his brother Mohammed Zina, 35, a former Goldman Sachs analyst, in one of the highest-profile insider trading cases the FCA has brought in recent years. The trial against Mohammed Zina continues.

The pair had been charged with six counts of insider dealing between July 2016 and December 2017, as well as three counts of fraud related to loans obtained from Tesco Bank to fund the trading. Both men denied the charges.

Suhail Zina’s lawyer confirmed his client had been acquitted but declined to comment further.

The brothers had been accused of using price-sensitive information to trade, with the FCA alleging they had made profits in the region of £140,000 from their dealing. The stocks involved in the alleged trading included semiconductor designer Arm and financial services group Shawbrook.

During the trial, which started in November, the jury was told that Suhail Zina was a trainee solicitor at the “magic circle” law firm Clifford Chance between February 2015 and February 2017 before moving into its property finance department upon qualification.

The alleged insider trading in question carries a potential sentence of up to seven years, while fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The FCA, which is responsible for supervising more than 40,000 firms, has made tackling market abuse and insider trading a top priority.

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