A hedge fund manager at Steven Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors LP is an unindicted co-conspirator in a $62 million insider trading scheme tied to technology stocks, two people familiar with the matter said.
The role allegedly played by Michael Steinberg emerged in court papers filed by the U.S. in the securities-fraud case of Jon Horvath, a former technology analyst at Cohen’s $14 billion hedge fund who Steinberg supervised. Steinberg, who hasn’t been charged with a crime, is the fifth person to be tied to insider trading while employed at SAC.
Horvath faces trial Oct. 29 in Manhattan federal court along with two other portfolio managers for his part in what Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called a “criminal club:” a conspiracy of hedge fund managers, co-workers and company insiders who reaped millions of dollars on illegal tips about Dell Inc. (DELL:US) and Nvidia Corp. (NVDA:US)
“The government added four additional co-conspirators,” prosecutors wrote in a Sept. 6 letter filed with the court, with the names blacked out. One of them, the U.S. said, is “the portfolio manager to whom Jon Horvath reported at his hedge fund.” That person was Steinberg, said the people, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public.
Steinberg, 40, of SAC’s Sigma Capital Management unit, has worked at the hedge fund since 1997. His lawyer, Barry Berke, declined to comment on the letter.
Jonathan Gasthalter, a spokesman for Stamford, Connecticut- based SAC, and Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for Bharara, declined to comment on the court filing.
Horvath, and his co-defendants, Level Global Investors LP co-founder Anthony Chiasson and ex-Diamondback Capital Management LLC portfolio manager Todd Newman, are accused of participating in a conspiracy with other portfolio managers, analysts and insiders at technology firms who swapped tips between 2007 and 2009.
The three men were first charged by Bharara’s office in January. Five people who were part of the alleged insider- trading ring have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the government.
The government filed a revised indictment against Horvath, Chiasson and Newman on Aug. 28, adding an additional securities fraud count against all three men for alleged insider-trading involving Santa Clara, California-based Nvidia.
The government, in a memo to defense lawyers, said it identified 12 co-conspirators, including Horvath, Newman and Chiasson. In an Aug. 29 filing, prosecutors added four additional co-conspirators whose identities were redacted in publicly-filed court papers, including Steinberg.
Prosecutors also said there was at least one other unidentified, unindicted portfolio manager who was a co- conspirator and part of the scheme with Newman and Chiasson.
The government said in court filings that it had additional evidence that Newman, Chiasson and Horvath attempted to or did obtain material nonpublic information regarding 11 other companies not listed in the indictment, including Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD:US); Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (2330); Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN:US); Intel Corp. (INTC:US) and Western Digital Corp. (WDC:US)
Horvath’s lawyer, Steve Peikin, asked in a Sept. 6 letter to the court that the trial be delayed until January, based on the expanded case and additional evidence. He declined to comment yesterday on the latest filing.
“The government has essentially doubled again the size and scope of this case,” wrote Peikin, a former Manhattan federal prosecutor. “The defendants and their counsel have been placed in the untenable position of having to try to master a huge universe of additional relevant discovery material.”
U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in Manhattan denied the defense request to delay the trial.
In addition to Horvath, two other former SAC fund managers, Noah Freeman and Donald Longueuil, have been charged by the U.S. with securities fraud for insider trading.
Freeman, a former SAC portfolio manager who pleaded guilty in 2011 to securities and wire fraud, has been cooperating with Bharara’s office and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York in their five-year insider probe dubbed “Perfect Hedge.”
At last year’s insider-trading trial of former Primary Global Research LLC consultant Winifred Jiau, Freeman testified he traded on illegal tips on at least 18 occasions while at SAC and at Sonar Capital Management LLC.
Freeman also testified that he, Longueuil, a former SAC Capital fund manager, and Sam Barai, founder of New York-based Barai Capital Management LP, obtained material, nonpublic information from technology company insiders, including Jiau, then traded on the information. Longueuil pleaded guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud in April 2011 and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Last April, former SAC analyst Jonathan Hollander agreed to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission allegations that he traded on inside information about a pending takeover of the Albertson’s LLC grocery chain.
The SEC alleged that Hollander tipped others about the acquisition and that he and others earned $95,807 in illegal profits. Hollander, who was trading in his personal account, agreed to pay more than $222,000, said his lawyer, Aitan Goelman.
SAC Capital and Cohen haven’t been charged with any wrongdoing.
The case is U.S. v. Newman, 12-00124, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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