Wall Street ‘Hero’ John Kinnucan Explains Himself

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When "expert network" analyst John Kinnucan appeared on CNBC last week to talk about how the Feds had approached him to wear a wire to gather information for an insider-trading investigation, he didn't feel the need to explain his decision to tell the suits to back off, since he was talking to people who understood the code of the Street: If you can't be trusted, you get dusted. But when Kinnucan's story started to go mainstream, people had questions. Namely: Why did he refuse the Feds' offer and then bungle their case by sending a warning missive to clients they named as targets in the probe, giving them ample opportunity to fire up their paper shredders and torch their hard drives before subpoenas arrived? If he and the people he worked with weren't doing anything illegal as he claimed, he shouldn't have had to do either of those things. Kinnucan's answer, as explained by him on the Times's DealBook blog today: The Feds didn't ask nicely enough.


Unfortunately, that requires assuming that I was asked nicely to cooperate. That was not the nature of the proposal I was offered. (And had I agreed, I have no doubt I would have been asked to record conversations with others as well.)

A surprised visit by the F.B.I. to your home — especially when your wife and two young children are due to arrive from school at any moment — is a shocking, terrifying experience. It makes me wonder whether they deliberately chose this time of maximum vulnerability. F.B.I. agents are backed by the full force of the federal government, and the ones who arrived at my home made it abundantly clear that they believe I am guilty, and therefore so are all of my clients, and they threatened to arrest me on the spot.

To be fair, he has a point. Feds rolling up to a man's house when he's just chilling on his porch drinking some rosé and acting all disrespectful of his business and shit — it's not cool. Next time they should at least bring snacks; things might turn out differently.

Why I Chose Not to Wear a Wire [DealBook/NYT]