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Insider Trading Before Accounting Scandals

Anup Agrawal

University of Alabama - Culverhouse College of Commerce & Business Administration

Tommy Cooper

University of Mississippi

March 1, 2008

EFA 2008 Athens Meetings Paper

We examine insider trading in a sample of over 500 firms involved in accounting scandals revealed by earnings-decreasing restatements, and in a control sample of non-restating firms. Managers are less likely to trade before accounting scandals than before other major corporate events such as takeovers or bankruptcies. Managers who sell stock while earnings are misstated potentially commit two crimes, earnings manipulation and insider trading, and their selling increases investor scrutiny and the likelihood of the manipulation being revealed. We analyze open-market stock transactions of five groups of corporate insiders: top management, top financial officers, all corporate officers, board members, and blockholders. We examine their purchases, sales and net sales during the misstated period and a pre-misstated period, using a difference-in-differences approach. Using several measures of the level of insider trading, we estimate cross-sectional regressions that control for other determinants of the level of insider trading. For the full sample of restating firms, we find weak evidence that top managers of misstating firms sell more stock during the misstated period than during the pre-misstated period, relative to the control sample. But in a number of sub-samples where insiders had greater incentives to sell before the revelation of accounting problems, we find strong evidence that top managers of restating firms sell substantially more stock during the misstated period. These findings suggest that managers' desire to sell their stockholdings at inflated prices is a motive for earnings manipulation. Our finding that insiders brazenly trade on a crime for which they are potentially culpable suggests that insider trading is more widespread in the market than has been found in the prior literature.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 56

Keywords: Insider trading, Earnings manipulation, Accounting scandals, Financial restatements, Earnings restatements, Corporate crime

JEL Classification: G34, G38, K22, M43

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Date posted: April 16, 2008 ; Last revised: March 18, 2009

Suggested Citation

Agrawal, Anup and Cooper, Tommy, Insider Trading Before Accounting Scandals (March 1, 2008). EFA 2008 Athens Meetings Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=929413 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.929413

Contact Information

Anup Agrawal (Contact Author)
University of Alabama - Culverhouse College of Commerce & Business Administration ( email )
Culverhouse College of Business
EFLS, Box 870224
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0223
United States
205-348-8970 (Phone)
205-348-0590 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://old.cba.ua.edu/personnel/AnupAgrawal.html
Tommy Cooper
University of Mississippi ( email )
PO Box 3986
Oxford, MS 38677
United States
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References:  63
Citations:  18

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