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A classroom in Hauser Hall was filled to capacity Monday afternoon as Tom Hardin, a white collar felon and subsequent FBI informant, recounted his experiences with insider trading and federal investigations to about 100 Harvard Law Students.
The Harvard Association for Law and Business hosted Hardin after he approached the organization about his desire to speak at the Law School. Hardin is currently visiting elite institutions across the country to share his “cautionary tale” about insider trading and white collar crimes, event coordinator David Kafafian said.
“Tom actually reached out to us and was quite frank in his introduction around who he was, that he was a convicted white collar felon, and what he did,” Kafafian said.
Hardin said he was first contacted by the FBI two years after he began insider trading. He was recruited to participate in Operation Perfect Hedge, a federal operation to curtail insider trading activities. As an informant, Hardin took on the pseudonym “Tipper X.”
Hardin described the moment the FBI first approached him—on a street in New York City as he was dropping off his dry cleaning.
“It was literally like right off of the TV. The dark suits [and] the wallet came out,” Hardin said, as he recalled his conversation with the agent.
“‘The FBI,” the agent said, according to Hardin’s memory. “Are you Tom? Come with us.’” The agent then said that the Agency knew about four of Hardin’s insider trade deals, according to Hardin.
“‘We are trying to get to two big individuals… You can help yourself by helping us build these investigations,’” Hardin said, recounting what the FBI agent told him.
Hardin then told anecdotal stories about his experience working as an FBI informant, some of which elicited vigorous laughter from the audience. While the conversation was equal parts serious and humorous, Hardin ended with a serious tone.
“I now look back and am able to analyze what happened… The one take-away I would like to leave with you today is that you are the average of the five people with whom you surround yourself. Choose wisely… Keep that in mind as you get into your competitive careers,” Hardin said.
Law student Coen Maas appreciated Hardin’s emphasis on morals.
“I enjoyed [Hardin] very much and what I liked the most… was when he talked about his own experience,” Maas said. “His ethical response to it is what I liked best.”
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