SEC and Justice Department: Silicon Valley Bank investigation

People queue up outside the headquarters of Silicon Valley Bank to withdraw their funds on March 13, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. 

Liu Guanguan | China News Service | Getty Images

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department are investigating how Silicon Valley Bank became the second largest bank failure in U.S. history, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The probes, which are separate and in preliminary phases, include looking into stock sales that SVB executives’ conducted ahead of the tech-focused bank’s collapse, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The demise of Silicon Valley Bank, as well as crypto-focused Signature Bank over the past few days, prompted extraordinary rescue action from regulators and caused a financial shock that rocked markets, especially shares of regional banks. In addition to backstopping the deposits at SVB and Signature Bank, federal regulators also announced an additional funding facility for troubled banks.

The SEC and Justice Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Daniel Beck, CFO of SVB, sold 2,000 shares of SVB Financial on Feb. 27, the same day that CEO Gregory Becker exercised options on 12,451 shares and sold them, regulatory filings showed. The sales were done under prescheduled insider trading arrangements called 10b5-1 plans. The WSJ said Beck and Becker did not return calls for comment.

CNBC reported Monday that regulators could make a second attempt to sell the failed SVB after the auction over the weekend led nowhere.

— Click here to read the WSJ story.