Former Rochdale trader pleads guilty to $1b Apple fraud ploy

A former trader with Rochdale Securities faces up to 25 years in prison after confessing to an unauthorised purchase of $1 billion (£650 million) worth of Apple stock.

David Miller pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and conspiracy related to the purchase, whose fallout eventually led the firm to collapse. He was also hit with a civil fraud suit initiated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this week.

"What happened here was out of character for a kind and generous family man who has lived an otherwise law-abiding and good life," said Miller's lawyer Kenneth Murphy.

"He deeply regrets what he has done and the harm it has caused to other people, including the former principals and employees at Rochdale,” Murphy added.

According to prosecutors, Miller bought 1.625 million shares of Apple stock in October 2012, on the same day the company was due to release third quarter earnings results. He hoped to profit handsomely off an expected rise in share prices following the release of the results.

However, the purchase was made under false pretenses, with Miller telling Rochdale the 1.625 million shares had been requested by a customer, who had, in fact, only requested 1,625 shares. The purchase resulted in $5.3 million (£3.5 million) worth of losses for Rochdale, which caused the firm’s demise.

Apple’s share prices peaked last fall as the market awaited the release of the iPhone 5, but, to the dismay of investors, its value has been tumbling ever since.