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Confusion delays Cowpland insider trading trial to 2002

Who's responsible? The other guy, both parties claim

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Canadian securities market regulators may not get a chance to bring Corel founder and former CEO Michael Cowpland to trial on insider trading charges for at least two years, it has emerged.

The reason? Cowpland's prosecutor and his defender both claim it's up to the other to get the ball rolling. Neither can agree on who's responsible for sorting out a pre-trial hearing - and until that's done, the case remains deadlocked.

"We're just continuing preparing our defence," claimed Michael Edelson, Cowpland's lawyer, according to Reuters. "The defence doesn't prosecute, we defend, and it's up to the prosecution to move the matter forward."

In normal circumstances, yes, admitted Ontario Securities Commission spokesman Frank Switzer, speaking for the prosecution. However, Edelson "made the undertaking that he was going to be making the arrangements... with the judge in Ottawa to set up a pre-trial conference to set a date".

Cowpland was accused of insider trading by the OSC back in October 1999. The Commission claims Cowpland's sale of 2.4 million Corel shares in August 1997 was prompted by his knowledge that the company would soon post an unexpected loss. One month after the sale, Corel reported a $32 million loss. As a result, it's share price fell 40 per cent. Cowpland made $13.7 million on the sale.

Cowpland claims he acted without reference to the company's financial state - the sale was made to pay off personal debts.

A guilty verdict would leave Cowpland facing a fine of C$1 million ($680,000) plus three times any profit he made on the sale, and a stint of up to two years in gaol. ®

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