FBI: “Manhattan U.S. Attorney and FBI Assistant Director in Charge Announce Insider Trading Charges Against Four SAC Capital Management Companies and SAC Portfolio Manager”

July 25, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 25, 2013 released the following:

SAC Management Companies Allegedly Engaged in Decade-Long Insider Trading Scheme on a Scale Without Known Precedent in Hedge Fund Industry; SAC Portfolio Manager Responsible for $1.25 Billion “Special Situations” Fund Has Pled Guilty to Insider Trading

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced today the unsealing of insider trading charges against four companies—S.A.C. CAPITAL ADVISORS, L.P. (SAC Capital LP), S.A.C. CAPITAL ADVISORS, LLC (SAC Capital LLC), CR INTRINSIC INVESTORS, LLC (CR Intrinsic), and SIGMA CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, LLC (Sigma Capital); (collectively the SAC Companies). The SAC Companies are responsible for the management of a group of affiliated hedge funds (collectively the SAC Hedge Fund or SAC). Charges were also unsealed today against RICHARD LEE, a portfolio manager employed by SAC Capital LP, who focused on “special situations” like mergers and acquisitions, private equity buy-outs, and corporate restructurings in publicly traded companies across various industry sectors. LEE pled guilty on July 23, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe, to conspiracy and securities fraud charges in connection with his work at SAC Capital LP.

The SAC Companies are charged with criminal responsibility for insider trading offenses. These alleged offenses were committed by numerous employees, occurred over the span of more than a decade, and involved the securities of more than 20 publicly-traded companies across multiple sectors of the economy. It is charged that the acts of these employees were made possible by institutional practices that encouraged the widespread solicitation and use of material, non-public information (Inside Information). This activity allegedly resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal profits and avoided losses at the expense of members of the investing public. The SAC Companies are expected to be arraigned on the charges on tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “A company reaps what it sows, and as alleged, SAC seeded itself with corrupt traders, empowered to engage in criminal acts by a culture that looked the other way despite red flags all around. SAC deliberately encouraged the no-holds-barred pursuit of an ‘edge’ that literally carried it over the edge into corporate criminality. Companies, like individuals, need to be held to account and need to be deterred from becoming dens of corruption. To all those who run companies and value their enterprises, but pay attention only to the money their employees make and not how they make it, today’s indictment hopefully gets your attention.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said: “Our aim all along has been to root out the wrongdoers and send a message to anyone else inclined to break the law. If your information ‘edge’ is inside information, you can’t trade on it.”

According to the allegations in the five-count indictment and the criminal information to which LEE pled guilty, both of which were unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

The SAC Hedge Fund operated as a collection of dozens of individual trading portfolios that covered nearly every trading sector of the economy. Each portfolio was headed up by a portfolio manager (PM), and supported by one or more research analysts (RAs). SAC PMs had substantial discretion in managing the investments in their own portfolios, and were required by the SAC Companies to share the investment recommendations in which they had the greatest confidence with the owner of the SAC Companies (the SAC Owner). The SAC Owner managed the largest trading portfolio at SAC.

From 1999 through at least 2010, numerous employees of the SAC Companies obtained and traded on Inside Information, or recommended trades based on such information to SAC PMs or the SAC Owner. To date, eight SAC Company PMs and RAs have been charged and/or convicted in insider trading cases involving the SAC Hedge Fund, including LEE, who was charged and pled guilty earlier this week.

The systematic insider trading engaged in by SAC PMs and RAs was the predictable and foreseeable result of an institutional failure. The SAC business culture encouraged and tolerated the relentless pursuit of an information “edge,” with no meaningful commitment to ensuring that such an “edge” came from legitimate research and not Inside Information.

As charged in the indictment, these institutional failings fell into three main categories:

First, the SAC Companies focused on recruiting SAC PMs and SAC RAs who had proven networks of public company contacts. The SAC Companies, however, did not make any corresponding effort to ensure that prospective SAC PMs and SAC RAs did not use these contacts to obtain illegal Inside Information. For example, in a November 16, 2008, e-mail forwarded to the SAC Owner, an SAC PM candidate in the industrial sector was recommended in part because he had “a house in the Hamptons with the CFO” of a Fortune 100 industrial sector company. In another instance, the SAC Companies hired LEE despite a warning to the SAC Owner from LEE’s prior employer, that LEE had been a member of an insider trading group at that hedge fund. LEE ultimately traded on Inside Information in the $1.25 billion “special situations” SAC portfolio he jointly managed with a second SAC PM.

Second, employees of the SAC Companies were financially rewarded for recommending to the SAC Owner “high conviction” trading ideas, in which the SAC PM had an “edge” over other investors. In many cases, the employees were not questioned when making trading recommendations that appeared to be based on Inside Information. On numerous occasions, the SAC Owner failed to follow up with SAC employees who were promoting trading sourced to an “edge” from a contact at a public company or with similar language suggesting potential insider trading. On one occasion, the SAC Owner participated in a discussion with his employees on the topic of confidential information the SAC employees had said that they learned during a paid consultation session from a clinical investigator for a drug trial. During the discussion with his employees, the SAC Owner, a sophisticated trader with over three decades of experience, never questioned whether the drug trial data constituted Inside Information. In addition, the SAC Owner and SAC Companies cultivated an environment that emphasized not discussing Inside Information openly rather than not seeking or trading on it in the first place.

Third, the SAC Companies employed limited compliance measures designed to detect or prevent insider trading by SAC PMs or SAC RAs. They failed to routinely monitor employee e-mails for indications of insider trading until late 2009, even though SAC’s head of compliance had recommended such monitoring to SAC management four years earlier. Indeed, despite numerous documented cases of insider trading at SAC—established by, among other things, guilty pleas of six former SAC PMs and RAs, each predicated upon repeated insider trading over substantial periods of time—SAC’s compliance department contemporaneously identified only a single instance of suspected insider trading by its employees. In that one case, the SAC Companies permitted those involved to continue working at SAC and failed to report the conduct to regulators or law enforcement.

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In addition to the indictment, today the government filed a civil forfeiture action (the forfeiture complaint) in Manhattan federal court, seeking the forfeiture of assets held by investment funds to which the SAC Companies served as investment advisors, assets held by affiliated investment funds, and assets held by the SAC Companies themselves. The Forfeiture Complaint alleges that the SAC Companies engaged in money laundering by commingling the illegal profits from insider trading with other assets, using the profits to promote additional insider trading, and transferring the profits with the assistance of financial institutions.

The SAC Companies are charged together in count one of the indictment with wire fraud, and each of the four SAC Companies is charged separately in counts two through five with securities fraud. Each of the SAC Companies faces a maximum fine for the securities fraud charges of the greater of $25 million, or twice the gross gain or loss derived from the offense on each charge.

The criminal information unsealed today, to which RICHARD LEE pled guilty earlier this week, charges LEE with one count of conspiracy and one count of securities fraud in connection with insider trading between April 2009 through 2010, while he was employed by SAC Capital LP. LEE faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the securities fraud charge and five years in prison for the conspiracy charge. He also faces a maximum fine of $5 million for the securities fraud charge and $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss derived from the offense on the conspiracy charge.

Of the seven other SAC Company portfolio managers and research analysts previously charged in insider trading cases involving the SAC Hedge Fund, five have pled guilty and await sentencing. They include:

  • Jon Horvath, who pled guilty on September 28, 2012;
  • Wes Wang, who pled guilty on July 13, 2012;
  • Donald Longueuil, who pled guilty on April 28, 2011;
  • Noah Freeman, who pled guilty on February 7, 2011; and
  • Richard Choo-Beng Lee, who pled guilty on October 13, 2009

Charges are still pending against the remaining two defendants previously charged in connection with SAC, Michael Steinberg and Mathew Martoma, who are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mr. Bharara praised the efforts of the FBI and also thanked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance in the investigation. He added that the investigation is continuing.

This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, on which Mr. Bharara serves as a Co-Chair of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit http://www.StopFraud.gov.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Arlo Devlin-Brown, Antonia M. Apps and John T. Zach are in charge of the prosecution, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Micah Smith is responsible for the forfeiture aspects of the case.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

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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 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.


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

————————————————————–

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.