Then there are those who make relative peanuts, professionals like Robert Ramnarine, formerly employed by Bristol Myers Squibb, and Matthew Kluger, formerly employed by brandname law firms such as Skadden. Ramnarine, from what we know so far, made $311,361 from buying options. Kluger picked up less than a $1 million for about 17 years of insider trading. For that Kluger is serving 12 years.
The motivation of these petty thieves is puzzling. And, if we believe Daniel M. Hawke, Chief of SEC's Market Abuse Unit, this low-level form of insider trading is rampant. In an interview with Bloomberg, Hawke describes it as "epidemic" in pharma and healthcare.
Obviously, Ramnarine and Kluger had good jobs. Yet they, one might say, traded them in for something that wasn't really about financial gain. Bright guys they could have made much more than that on legitimate trades. It is easy to speculate that toiling in the vineyard of the establishment might not be a thrill a minute. Sure the tasks might be intellectually stimulating but being there in an office is hardly, well, exciting and scary. Anticipating earning a buck illegally is exciting and scary.
Also, few of us truly grow up. Most still harbor vestiges of teenage rebellion. Low level insider traders might enjoy the idea of sticking it to authority. After all, going to work everyday is filled with such high gravitas. The ethos is enough to make the professional stuck emotionally back in pre-college days want to do something bad enough to make them feel above it all.