A hedge fund co-founder, a hedge fund portfolio manager, four financial analysts and a Dell Inc. employee teamed up in a record-setting insider trading scheme that netted more than $61.8 million in illegal profits based on trades of a single stock, authorities said Wednesday as they described a cozy network of friends in finance who made the most of their connections with corrupt employees of technology companies.
The scheme was outlined in a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that charged four of the men with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud, among other charges. Three analysts have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the government, according to the court papers.
The insider trading plot as authorities portrayed it was noteworthy for its size. Last month, hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam began serving an 11-year prison term - the longest ever given in an insider trading case - for a scheme that prosecutors said produced as much as $75 million in profits on dozens of trades over a multi-year period. That prosecution resulted in more than two dozen convictions and led to a spinoff probe that produced even more arrests.
In the new case, prosecutors again are highlighting its size, saying the co-conspirators netted more than $61.8 million in illegal profits based on trades of a single stock from 2008 through 2009.
Anthony Chiasson, a co-founder at former hedge fund group Level Global Investors LP, was among three men arrested early Wednesday. He surrendered to the FBI.
In court papers, he was credited with a starring role in the securities fraud. Authorities said a hedge fund analyst fed Chiasson inside information about an upcoming announcement of Dell's earnings for the first and second quarters of 2008, allowing Chiasson and others at his hedge fund to make approximately $57 million in illegal profits through trades. Inside information about Dell earnings resulted in $3.8 million in illegal profits at another hedge fund and $1 million in illegal profits at a third hedge fund, the complaint said. The Dell inside information also allowed an investment firm to avoid losses of approximately $78,000, authorities said.
Jon Horvath, an analyst at Sigma Capital Management, an affiliate of hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors in Manhattan, was arrested at his New York City home while Todd Newman, a hedge fund portfolio manager, was arrested in Needham, Mass. It was not immediately clear if a fourth man charged in the complaint, analyst Danny Kuo, was in custody.
Among those who have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and securities fraud and are cooperating in the case was Sandeep Goyal, who worked from the summer of 2006 through May 2007 for Dell at its corporate headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, and obtained inside information from employees of Dell after he began working as an associate analyst for a global asset management firm in Manhattan, court papers said.
According to court papers, Goyal benefited from his relationship with a co-conspirator who worked in Dell's investor relations department from March 2007 through March 2009 and in its corporate development office from March 2009 through April 2010. Authorities said a hedge fund with $4 billion in assets in 2009 paid Goyal about $175,000 for providing insider information about Dell.
The illegal profits in the case were made after tips were shared among co-conspirators about upcoming earnings announcements regarding Dell and Nvidia Corp., according to court papers.
FBI Agent David Makol said in court papers that the government built its case through information provided by the three cooperators, consensually recorded conversations, court-authorized wiretaps, telephone records, trading records, electronic communications, documents provided by a cooperator and other documents obtained from two hedge funds. The hedge funds were not identified in court papers.
Messages seeking comment left with lawyers for the defendants were not immediately returned.
This program aired on January 18, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.