HDNet's Cuban Tells SEC He's Innocent

Billionaire Mark Cuban, the colorful, youngish owner of HDNet, the Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise and several other interests, said through his lawyers that he is innocent of insider trading charges leveled against him this week by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC is accusing Cuban of selling off 600,000 shares of an Internet search engine firm prior to an impending stock offer. The story was first reported Monday (Nov. 17) by Universal NBC's business channel, CNBC.

The government complaint charges that in June 2004, the search engine firm (Mamma.com) had invited Cuban to participate in a stock offering after he agreed to keep the information confidential. The SEC said Cuban knew the stock offering would be conducted at a discount compared to the prevailing market price, and that it would be "dilutive" to existing shareholders, the SEC said in a statement.

Subsequently, the SEC said, Cuban told his broker to sell the dot-com billionaire's entire position in Mamma.com, eventually avoiding the loss of more than $750,000 by selling prior to the public announcement.

On one of his Web sites, Blog Maverick, Cuban said, in part: "I am disappointed that the Commission chose to bring this case based upon its Enforcement staff's win-at-any-cost ambitions. The staff's process was result-oriented, facts be damned. The government's claims are false and they will be proven to be so."

Besides HDNet and the Mavericks, the 50-year-old Cuban also owns the Landmark Theater chain. Currently, he is reportedly among at least five bidders seeking to purchase the Chicago Cubs baseball franchise.