Appeal in Insider Trading Case Centers on Wiretap

October 24, 2012

The New York Times on October 23, 2012 released the following:

“BY PETER LATTMAN

In March 2008, the Justice Department made an extraordinary request: It asked a judge for permission to record secretly the phone conversations of Raj Rajaratnam, a billionaire hedge fund manager.

The request, which was granted, was the first time the government had asked for a wiretap to investigate insider trading. Federal agents eavesdropped on Mr. Rajaratnam for nine months, leading to his indictment — along with charges against 22 others — and the biggest insider trading case in a generation.

On Thursday, lawyers for Mr. Rajaratnam, who is serving an 11-year prison term after being found guilty at trial, will ask a federal appeals court to reverse his conviction. They contend that the government improperly obtained a wiretap in violation of Mr. Rajaratnam’s constitutional privacy rights and federal laws governing electronic surveillance.

Such a ruling is considered a long shot, but a reversal would have broad implications. Not only would it upend Mr. Rajaratnam’s conviction but also affect the prosecution of Rajat K. Gupta, the former Goldman Sachs director who was convicted of leaking boardroom secrets to Mr. Rajaratnam. Mr. Gupta is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday.

A decision curbing the use of wiretaps would also affect the government’s ability to police Wall Street trading floors, as insider trading cases and other securities fraud crimes are notoriously difficult to build without direct evidence like incriminating telephone conversations.

“Wiretaps traditionally have been used in narcotics and organized crime cases,” said Harlan J. Protass, a criminal defense lawyer in New York who is not involved in the Rajaratnam case. “Their use today in insider trading investigations indicates that the government thinks there may be no bounds to the types of white-collar cases in which they can be used.”

More broadly, Mr. Rajaratnam’s appeal is being closely watched for its effect on the privacy protections of defendants regarding wiretap use. Three parties have filed “friend-of-the-court” briefs siding with Mr. Rajaratnam. Eight former federal judges warned that allowing the court’s ruling to stand “would pose a grave threat to the integrity of the warrant process.” A group of defense lawyers said that upholding the use of wiretaps in this case would “eviscerate the integrity of the criminal justice system.”

To safeguard privacy protections, federal law permits the government’s use of wiretaps only under narrowly prescribed conditions. Among the conditions are that a judge, before authorizing a wiretap, must find that conventional investigative techniques have been tried and failed. Mr. Rajaratnam’s lawyers said the government misled the judge who authorized the wiretap, Gerard E. Lynch, in this regard.

They say that the government omitted that the Securities and Exchange Commission had already been building its case against Mr. Rajaratnam for more than a year using typical investigative means like interviewing witnesses and reviewing trading records. Had the judge known about the S.E.C.’s investigation, he would not have allowed the government to use a wiretap, Mr. Rajaratnam’s lawyers argue.

Before Mr. Rajaratnam’s trial, the presiding judge, Richard J. Holwell, held a four-day hearing on the legality of the wiretaps. Judge Holwell criticized the government, calling its decision to leave out information about its more conventional investigation a “glaring omission” that demonstrated “a reckless disregard for the truth.”

Nevertheless, Judge Holwell refused to suppress the wiretaps, in part, he said, because they were necessary to uncover Mr. Rajartanam’s insider trading scheme. “It appears that the S.E.C., and by inference the criminal authorities, had hit a wall of sorts,” Judge Holwell wrote.

On appeal, Mr. Rajaratnam lawyers argued that the government’s lack of candor should not be tolerated. They described the government’s wiretap application as full of “misleading assertions” and “outright falsity” that made it impossible for Judge Lynch to do his job.

“The government’s self-chosen reckless disregard of the truth and of the critical role of independent judicial review breached that trust and desolated the warrant’s basis,” wrote Mr. Rajaratnam’s lawyers at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

In their brief to the appeals court, federal prosecutors dispute that they acted with a “reckless disregard for the truth.” Instead, they argue that omitting details of the S.E.C.’s investigation was at most “an innocent mistake rising to the level of negligence.” In addition, they said that the S.E.C.’s inquiry failed to yield sufficient evidence for a criminal case, necessitating the use of a wiretap.

Once Judge Lynch signed off on the wiretap application, the government’s investigation into Mr. Rajaratnam accelerated. The wiretapping of Mr. Rajaratnam’s phone, along with the subsequent recording of his supposed accomplices, yielded about 2,400 conversations. In many of them, Mr. Rajaratnam could be heard exchanging confidential information about technology stocks like Google and Advanced Micro Devices.

Three years ago this month, federal authorities arrested Mr. Rajaratnam and charged him with orchestrating a seven-year insider trading conspiracy. The sprawling case has produced 23 arrests of traders and tipsters, many of them caught swapping secrets with Mr. Rajaratnam about publicly traded companies.

Among the thousands of calls were four that implicated Mr. Gupta, a former head of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company who served as a director at Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble. On one call in July 2008, the only wiretapped conversation between the two men, Mr. Gupta freely shared Goldman’s confidential board discussions with Mr. Rajaratnam. On another, Mr. Rajaratnam told a colleague at his hedge fund, the Galleon Group, “I heard yesterday from somebody who’s on the board of Goldman Sachs that they are going to lose $2 per share.”

Those conversations set off an investigation of Mr. Gupta. He was arrested in October 2011 and charged with leaking boardroom secrets about Goldman and P.& G. to Mr. Rajaratnam. A jury convicted him in May after a monthlong trial.

On Wednesday at Federal District Court in Manhattan, Judge Jed S. Rakoff will sentence Mr. Gupta. Federal prosecutors are seeking a prison term of up to 10 years. Mr. Gupta’s lawyers have asked Judge Rakoff for a nonprison sentence of probation and community service. One proposal by the defense would have Mr. Gupta living in Rwanda and working on global health issues.

Regardless of his sentence, Mr. Gupta plans to appeal. And because prosecutors used wiretap evidence in his trial, Mr. Gupta would benefit from a reversal of Mr. Rajaratnam’s conviction.

Yet a reversal would not affect the convictions of the defendants in the conspiracy who have pleaded guilty. As part of their pleas, those defendants waived their rights to an appeal.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


As Gupta Insider Trading Trial Begins, Prosecution to Call First Witness

May 22, 2012

WNYC News on May 22, 2012 released the following:

By WNYC Newsroom

“Federal prosecutors are expected to call their first witness in the case against former Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta on Tuesday.

The witness list in the case reads like a who’s who in business, including Warren Buffet and Lloyd Blankfein. But the prosecution is expected to call Gupta’s former secretary, Caryn Eisenberg to the stand first. Other possible witnesses for the prosecution on Tuesday include an FBI agent and a former co-worker of Gupta’s from the consulting firm McKinsey.

Prosecution and defense teams have made their opening arguments in the trial of the prominent NY businessman on Monday.

Government lawyer said they have Gupta’s phone records that show he illegally passed corporate secrets to his friend, Raj Rajaratnam, who ran a hedge fund. Assistant U.S. Attorney Reed Brodsky told jurors in opening statements that Gupta “threw away his duties, threw away his responsibilities and broke the law.”

Brodsky recounted how former billionaire Rajaratnam earned close to $1 million after Gupta told him in a phone call that Goldman had received an offer from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to invest $5 billion in the banking giant in 2008.

“That was trading on secrets coming from someone who actually knew what was happening in the confines of the board room,” Brodsky said. “That’s called insider trading and that’s a serious crime.”

Gupta’s lawyer said the prosecution’s evidence is like a cropped photograph. It doesn’t tell the whole story, it’s circumstantial. He questioned why a rich and successful businessman take this risk.

Defense attorney Gary P. Naftalis told jurors that Gupta “never defrauded anybody. He never cheated anybody.” Naftalis argued the call harms rather than helps the government’s case because no unusual trading occurred around that time, and the men were discussing information already reported by analysts and journalists.

The 63-year-old Gupta was a former Goldman Sachs board member, and also a former board member at Procter & Gamble Co.

Gupta has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud charges that carry a potential for more than 100 years in prison.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


A Charlotte Federal Grand Jury Indicted Four in an Alleged $40 Million Ponzi Scheme

February 24, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on February 23, 2012 released the following:

“Four Hedge Fund Managers Indicted in $40 Million Ponzi Scheme

Defendants Join Seven Others and CommunityONE Bank Charged in Connection with the Scheme

CHARLOTTE, NC—A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte returned an indictment against Jonathan D. Davey, 47, of Newark, Ohio, Jeffrey M. Toft, 49, of Oviedo, Fla., Chad A. Sloat, 33, of Kansas City, Mo., and Michael J. Murphy, 51, of Deep Haven, Minn., on February 22, 2012, on four criminal charges relating to an investment fraud conspiracy, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Joining U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement are Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Jeannine A. Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI).

According to the criminal indictment, the defendants operated “hedge funds” as part of a conspiracy that took in $40 million from victims for a Ponzi scheme operating under the name Black Diamond Capital Solutions (Black Diamond). The indictment alleges that the conspiracy lasted from about October 2007 through about April 2010. The indictment alleges that the defendants lied to get money from their victims by claiming, among other things, that they had done due diligence on Black Diamond and were operating legitimate hedge funds with significant safeguards, when in reality, neither claim was true. The indictment also alleges that, as Black Diamond began collapsing, the defendants and others created a new Ponzi scheme and with a separate Ponzi account that Davey administered. Thereafter, new victim money was deposited into the Ponzi account and used to make Ponzi payments to other victims and to fund the defendants’ lifestyles.

The indictment also charges Davey with tax evasion for claiming to the IRS on his 2008 tax return that $810,000 that Davey stole from victims was a “loan.” In reality, the indictment charges, Davey stole that $810,000, plus approximately $500,000 in 2009, from victims to build Davey’s personal mansion. Davey attempted to evade the taxes due and owing in 2008 by calling the money a “loan” from his investors to “Sovereign Grace, Inc.,” a Belizian corporation that Davey created as a diversion for his victims and the IRS.

The first charge against all four defendants, alleging conspiracy to commit securities fraud, carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. The second charge against all four defendants, alleging conspiracy to commit wire fraud, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. The third charge against all four defendants, alleging a money laundering conspiracy, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of criminally derived proceeds. The final charge against Davey only, alleging tax evasion, carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

The defendants will be making their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in the coming weeks.

This indictment follows a series of convictions and other charges in this matter. On December 16, 2010, Keith Simmons was convicted following a jury trial of securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. Simmons is in custody awaiting sentencing.

On April 27, 2011, a criminal bill of information and a Deferred Prosecution Agreement were filed against CommunityONE Bank, N.A., for its failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program. As alleged in that bill of information, Simmons was a customer of CommunityONE, and used various accounts with the Bank in furtherance of the Ponzi scheme. However, as alleged in that bill of information, the Bank did not file any suspicious activity reports on Simmons, despite the hundreds of suspicious transactions that took place in his accounts.

Other defendants convicted in this case are set forth below. It should be noted that those defendants already sentenced had their sentences reduced by the Court to reflect their cooperation with the United States in its investigation and prosecution of others.

  • Bryan Keith Coats, 51, of Clayton, N.C., pled guilty on October 24, 2011, to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and money laundering conspiracy. Coats is awaiting sentencing.
  • Deanna Ray Salazar, 54, of Yucca Valley, Calif., pled guilty on December 7, 2010, to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and tax evasion. Salazar is awaiting sentencing.
  • Jeffrey M. Muyres, 36, of Matthews, N.C., pled guilty on May 17, 2011, to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and money laundering conspiracy. Muyres was sentenced to 23 months’ imprisonment by Chief Judge Robert Conrad, Jr., on January 18, 2012.
  • Roy E. Scarboro, 47, of Archdale, N.C., pled guilty on December 3, 2010, to securities fraud, money laundering, and making false statements to the FBI. Scarboro was sentenced to 26 months’ imprisonment by Chief Judge Robert Conrad, Jr., on May 4, 2011.
  • James D. Jordan, 49, of El Paso, Texas, pled guilty on September 14, 2010, to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Jordan was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment by Chief Judge Robert Conrad, Jr., on June 29, 2011.
  • Stephen D. Lacy, 52, of Pawleys Island, S.C., pled guilty on December 9, 2010, to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Lacy was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment by Chief Judge Robert Conrad, Jr., on May 4, 2011.

The details contained in this indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The conviction or guilty plea of any other person is not evidence of the guilt of any of the defendants.

This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kurt W. Meyers and Mark T. Odulio of the Western District of North Carolina, and the case against Jeffrey Muyres was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark T. Odulio. The investigation is being handled by the FBI and the IRS.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


A Quick Look At How The FBI Turns Insider Traders Into Informants

January 20, 2012
FBI
Wikimedia Commons

Business Insider on January 19, 2012 released the following:

“Yesterday, three people were arrested and seven people were charged in a hedge fund insider trading scandal that prosecutors are calling, “the circle of friends.”

At the press conference U.S. Attorney General Preet Bharara showed an infographic depicting the circle of four guys in New York, Boston, and San Francisco sharing information about Dell, and then passing that knowledge up to their supervisors at hedge funds Diamondback Capital and Level Global.

It was a “tight knit circle of greed,” said Bharara, where these men got an “illegal inside edge over law abiding investors.”

Okay, tight knit. But if it’s so tight knit, what does the FBI do to get inside?

Business Insider spoke to attorney Jeffrey Smith, a partner at DeCotiis, FitzPatrick & Cole. A former assistant U.S. Attorney, Smith is now in private practice specializing in the defense of individuals in cases against the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

In short, white collar crime.

“The government’s got a good run here,” said Smith. In this case, “they probably have cooperating witnesses, tapes…” all a defense lawyer can do is go through discovery and try to find the holes in the government’s evidence.”

It’s a tough job that becomes a lot tougher if the FBI has flipped someone on the inside. That’s what happened in this case, as two analysts from the hedge funds (Spyridon “Sam” Adondakis and Jesse Tortora), and the man who was passing them information from Dell (Sandeep Goyal) were/are cooperating with authorities.

Smith explained how that might happen.

“A pair of agents might show up at your house really early in the morning or late at night when no one is around,” he said. “They’ll use a combination of threats and inducements… They’ll say there’s overwhelming evidence against you. Overwhelming force is their first technique.”

Basically, the agents will say, we have such and such information on you, but if you’re willing to help us out we can help you. They may also say they have information on a friend of family member’s insider trading activity, though that’s less common.

Smith also said that the fact that prosecutors are revealing the identities of informants means that the government has probably gotten all the useful information they can out of them.

On the other hand that doesn’t mean that all the information connected to this case is out. There could be more informants who remain unknown because they still have information to share. Specifically, in this case, we still don’t know who was passing Goyal information from inside of Dell — that could be nothing, but its an example of a big, important question that remains unanswered here. When reporters asked about that at the press conference, Bharara just said he wasn’t sharing any information beyond what could be found in the complaint.

“There’s every indication that the government has more in the pipeline,” said Smith. “Things have changed a lot. Five or ten years ago it (insider trading) was little prosecuted, sentences were like tax offenses. I don’t think they (insider traders) have illusions about that anymore.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Judges Rule Galleon Chief Must Go to Prison

December 2, 2011
Raj Rajaratnam

The New York Times on December 1, 2011 released the following:

“BY PETER LATTMAN

A federal court has denied Raj Rajaratnam’s request to remain free on bail while he appeals his insider-trading conviction, a ruling that forces the fallen hedge fund manager to report to prison on Monday.

Mr. Rajaratnam, the former head of the hedge fund Galleon Group, is set to serve his 11-year sentence — the longest prison term to date for insider trading — in a federal prison in Ayer, Mass.

In a last-ditch try to keep their client out of jail pending his appeal, his lawyers appeared at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday. They argued that his case raised substantial questions of law that mandated his release until the appeal was resolved.

In a short order issued Thursday afternoon, the three-judge panel, without explanation, denied Mr. Rajaratnam’s request. During the hearing, the judges had expressed concern that Mr. Rajaratnam was a flight risk and could have an incentive to flee to his native Sri Lanka.

“Wouldn’t he rather be living as a centimillionaire in his own country rather than as a convict in a jail?” Judge Dennis Jacobs asked Patricia A. Millett, a lawyer for Mr. Rajaratnam, at the hearing on Wednesday.

Beginning Monday, Mr. Rajaratnam will be living at the Federal Medical Center Devens in Massachusetts. Mr. Rajaratnam, 54, was assigned there because of his health problems. He has diabetes that could lead to eventual kidney failure, according to medical records submitted to the court.

The Devens prison is located about 200 miles from his luxury apartment on Sutton Place in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and three children.

Mr. Rajaratnam’s surrender to the Bureau of Prisons is a milestone in the government’s most prominent insider trading prosecution since the 1980s. Federal authorities arrested Mr. Rajaratnam in October 2009, charging him with orchestrating a multiyear insider trading conspiracy involving senior corporate executives, management consultants and other hedge fund managers.

In May, a jury found him guilty of securities fraud and conspiracy. Between the criminal case and a parallel civil proceeding brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Rajaratnam has been ordered to pay about $157 million in fines, the largest penalty assessed so far in an insider trading case.

The pursuit of insider trading by federal prosecutors appears to be continuing unabated. Before year end, the government is expected to bring a new set of insider trading charges against traders at Diamondback Capital Management and Level Global Investors, according to a person with direct knowledge of the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

The new cases are based in part on wiretapped conversations between the traders and illegal tipsters, this person said. Dozens of secretly recorded conversations between Mr. Rajaratnam and his accomplices also formed the core of the evidence against him at trial.

They will also form the core of Mr. Rajaratnam’s appeal, which could take as long as a year to resolve. His lawyers will argue that the government improperly obtained judicial authorization to wiretap his telephone, violating the law and Mr. Rajaratnam’s constitutional rights.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Two Hedge Fund Managers Charged with Insider Trading; Two Others Plead Guilty

February 8, 2011

Four hedge fund managers have been charged by federal prosecutors on insider trading charges.

Two of the men were arrested Tuesday morning by the FBI. Two others have pleaded guilty, officials said. Three of the men work as hedge fund portfolio managers and one is a hedge fund analyst.

Samir Barai, Donald Longueuil, Jason Pflaum and Noah Freeman are the names of those allegedly involved in the scheme to defraud.

Read the criminal complaint against Barai and Longueuil here. Based on the criminal complaint, arrest warrants were issued for Barai and Longueuil. Both are facing charges of conspiracy, securities fraud and obstruction of justice.

Pflaum and Freeman have entered plea agreements, authorized by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Pflaum’s plea, available here, was entered December 17, 2010. Freeman’s plea, available here, was entered yesterday.

Both plea agreements request the substantial assistance of Pflaum and Freeman in this case. If they comply, a reduced sentence for their cooperation is possible. This is a huge incentive for Pflaum and Freeman, since both are looking at 25 years imprisonment for conspiracy and securities fraud.

The U.S. government has brought insider-trading charges against more than 30 people since October 2009 in an effort to crack down on the alleged criminality within the financial market.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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