By Jana J. Pruet
DALLAS, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Mark Cuban, the flamboyant billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, did not engage in insider trading when he sold his stock in an Internet company in 2004, a Texas jury decided on Wednesday.
Cuban, 55, estimated by Forbes magazine to have a net worth of $2.5 billion, was accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of trading on non-public information when he sold his 600,000 shares in Internet search company Mamma.com - worth $7.9 million - and avoided a $750,000 loss.
Cuban nodded and smiled, and he blasted SEC lawyer Jan Folena in remarks after the verdict, saying she had tried to bully him and "lied" to the court.
"I'm the luckiest guy in the world and I'm glad I could stand up to them," Cuban told reporters.
SEC lawyers left the court quickly after the verdict was read without making extensive remarks.
An SEC spokesman later issued a statement saying regulators would not let this deter them from taking people to trial.
"We respect the jury's decision," SEC spokesman John Nester said.
"While the verdict in this particular case is not the one we sought, it will not deter us from bringing and trying cases where we believe defendants have violated the federal securities laws."
Prosecutors had argued at a two-week trial that Cuban sold his stake soon after learning from Mamma.com Chief Executive Guy Faure that the Montreal-based company was planning a private placement that would dilute his holdings in the company.
Mamma.com shares dropped 9.3 percent on the morning after the offering was announced. By that time, Cuban had already sold his shares.
Cuban, who rose to prominence before the dot-com crash by selling his company, Broadcast.com, in 1999 to Yahoo Inc for $5.7 billion, said he did nothing wrong when he sold his 6.3 percent stake in Mamma.com.
Cuban testified during the two-week trial that there were many reasons for selling his shares, including the private placement and Mamma.com's possible association with a known stock swindler.
"This case should have never been brought to trial," Cuban's defense lawyer Stephen Best said.
The SEC was seeking to recoup Cuban's gains and impose fines if the jury had ruled against Cuban in the civil trial in federal court in Dallas.
In addition to his ownership of a professional basketball team, Cuban is one of the stars of the popular television show "Shark Tank" which features financiers analyzing and deciding whether to invest in new products presented by entrepreneurs.
The SEC brought the civil lawsuit against Cuban in November 2008. A judge dismissed the suit in 2009 but an appeals court revived the case the following year.