When the SEC sued Mark Cuban for insider trading in shares of Mamma.com, the case was unique from the beginning. First of all, Cuban didn't settle instantly and paid a small fine without admitting or denying guilt -- something that seems to be a rarity these days. He even blogged about the charges.
Now, the feisty Mavericks owner has taken the unusual step of suing the SEC for denying him proper access to documents that detail the SEC's allegations and evidence against him.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, accuses the commission of improperly rejecting requests to access some evidence, being too slow to respond to some requests, and not trying hard enough to find all the documentation Cuban's attorneys requested.
When the SEC first announced the charges, Gary Weiss wrote that he was "underwhelmed" by the SEC's evidence, which appears to hinge on the testimony of one guy about a phone conversation he says he had. Joe Nocera really nailed it when he wrote this: "Now then - don't you sleep better at night knowing the feds are bringing rich guys like Mark Cuban to heel? No? Neither do I. In fact, if the case illustrates anything, it is how far the Securities and Exchange Commission has descended into irrelevance since Christopher Cox became chairman. That has become even more obvious since the financial crisis broke."
There's so much actual securities fraud out there that it's a shame the SEC is wasting its time with something as irrelevant as Mark Cuban's alleged effort to avoid a $750,000 loss (which really would have been much lower than that once you factor in the capital gains he most likely had to offset it against and his tax bracket).
And if that doesn't scare you, think of this: While the SEC was spending two years building its case against Mark Cuban, it was literally ignoring a dossier of evidence against Bernie Madoff.