At the start of this year, we all witnessed a phenomenon that has now acquired a name: meme stocks. In this case it was the sudden explosion in value of GameStop, a traditional bricks and mortar videogame retailer in the US, which had been looking fairly moribund until a rush of investment sent its valuation through the roof. Some people made lots of money, and some lost a lot. In the immediate aftermath Keith Gill, a key figure in the goldrush and better known online as Roaring Kitty, told Congress that “even I barely understand these matters.”
That explanation has not, however, impressed regulators in Gill’s home state of Massachusetts. The problem is that while Gill styled himself as the little guy and played up the cat memes he was, until he resigned this January, a registered securities broker and worked as a financial wellness education director at the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). The state of Massachusetts did not like this one bit.
As reported by the New York Times, Massachusetts regulators accused MassMutual of failing to adequately supervise Gill’s trading and online activity. In addition to which, Gill was also apparently trading on behalf of three other people, unaffiliated with MassMutual, without the organisation’s knowledge or approval.