More trouble for Cohen's SAC Capital as Steinberg indicted in NY

Fri Mar 29, 2013 2:35pm EDT
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By Nate Raymond and Matthew Goldstein

(Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Friday charged Michael Steinberg, a veteran portfolio manager at Steven A. Cohen's hedge fund, with insider trading in two technology stocks, the most senior SAC Capital Advisors' employee to be indicted in the government's long-running probe.

FBI agents arrested Steinberg at his Park Avenue home in New York City at around 6 a.m. EDT (1000 GMT). Steinberg, wearing a blue sweater, pleaded "not guilty" to charges of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities when he appeared at a late morning arraignment.

The five-count indictment charges Steinberg, 40, with using inside information to trade shares of computer maker Dell Inc and chipmaker Nvidia Corp in 2008 and 2009 that generated about $1.4 million in illegal profits for Cohen's $15 billion hedge fund.

In a related civil complaint against Steinberg, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said the information allowed Steinberg to generate $6.4 million in profits and avoided losses for the hedge fund.

Barry Berke, Steinberg's lawyer, said in a statement that his client had done "absolutely nothing wrong" and his "trading decisions were based on detailed analysis."

The charges come after a tumultuous six months for Cohen, one of the most successful hedge fund traders. It began with last November's arrest of former SAC portfolio manager Mathew Martoma in what prosecutors had described as the largest U.S. insider-trading case.

Martoma pleaded not guilty to charges of insider trading in Elan Corp and Wyeth that allegedly resulted in profits and avoided losses totaling $276 million.

SAC Capital agreed two weeks ago to pay a $616 million penalty to the SEC to settle allegations of improper trading by the firm arising out of the Martoma investigation and alleged improper trading in Dell and Nvidia. SAC neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing as part of that settlement.   Continued...

Michael Steinberg (C) leaves Manhattan Federal Court in New York March 29, 2013. REUTERS/Keith Bedford