Former Medtronic Consultant Faces Insider Trading Charges

Doron Tavlin is accused of tipping off his friend ahead of Medtronic's Mazor acquisition, and taking a $25,000 kickback a year later.

Amanda Pedersen

July 12, 2022

3 Min Read
In this photo illustration, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) seal is seen on a smartphone screen.
Image courtesy of: OPA Images Limited / Alamy Stock Photo

A former Medtronic consultant and Mazor Robotics executive is in hot water with the feds for allegedly tipping off a friend about the company's plans to acquire Mazor back in 2018, and later collecting a kickback payment.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently filed insider trading charges against Doron Tavlin and two friends who made more than $500,000 in profits from trading in advance of the acquisition being made public.

Medtronic and Mazor inked a major multi-phased strategic and equity investment agreement. That relationship eventually led to Medtronic buying Mazor in 2018 in a deal valued at about $1.7 billion. The deal was widely considered a win-win among industry analysts.

According to the SEC complaint, Tavlin is a Minneapolis, MN resident and the former VP of business development at Mazor Robotics. Prior to his role at Mazor, Tavlin was a Medtronic consultant from January 2016 to October 2017. Currently he is an executive at a medical device company, the agency noted, though the agency did not specify which medtech company he is working for.

Tavlin allegedly tipped his friend Afshin Farahan regarding Mazor's impending acquisition. Farahan not only used the information to buy Mazor stock for himself, but also tipped his friend, David Gantman, who purchased Mazor stock and call options in advance of the deal being announced on Sept. 20, 2018, according to the complaint. The SEC alleges that Farahan made about $247,500 in illegal trading profits, and Gantman made about $255,600.

According to the complaint, in October 2019, Tavlin asked Farahan for money in exchange for the Mazor information, and Farahan paid him a kickback of $25,000. The SEC's Market Abuse Unit used data analysis tools to uncover the defendants' timely and profitable trading.

Farahan is a resident of Pacific Palisades, CA, and owns rug businesses in Minnesota. Gantman is a resident of Mendota Heights, MN, and is a licensed insurance agent and senior benefits consultant at a large insurance company, according to the SEC complaint.

“The government seems to have drawn every conceivable inference against Mr. Tavlin," Tavlin’s attorneys, Matt Forsgren and David Wallace-Jackson, said in a statement. "Mr. Tavlin looks forward to telling his side of the story at the appropriate time.”

Covering their tracks (allegedly)

The government also accuses Tavlin, Farahan, and Gantman of trying to hide their friendship in an effort to cover their tracks.

On Dec. 19, 2018, the same day that Medtronic announced it had completed the Mazor acquisition, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) provided Mazor's attorneys with a list that included the names of certain traders who had purchased Mazor securities before the deal was announced, and asked that everyone who had knowledge of the Medtronic-Mazor deal in advance of the announcement review the list and identify anyone they knew. Both Farahan and Gantman were on the list.

On Jan. 8, 2019, Mazor's legal team sent the list to designated employees, including Tavlin, with instructions to either confirm that they did not know anyone on the list, or to provide additional information if they did. Later that morning, Tavlin allegedly called Farahan, and the two spoke for eight minutes. After the call, Tavlin responded to the e-mail from Mazor's legal team stating that he did not have relationships with any "entities" on the list, according to the SEC complaint.

The SEC complaint details Tavlin's friendship with Farahan dating back to the early 2000s, as well as Farahan's friendship dating back to the early 1990s. Tavlin and Gantman also knew each other through Farahan, and at times exchanged direct email correspondence, according to the complaint.

The SEC is seeking permanent injunctions, disgorgement plus prejudgment interest, and civil penalties against all three defendants, and is seeking an officer-and-director bar against Tavlin.

About the Author(s)

Amanda Pedersen

Amanda Pedersen is a veteran journalist and award-winning columnist with a passion for helping medical device professionals connect the dots between the medtech news of the day and the bigger picture. She has been covering the medtech industry since 2006.

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