U.S. court upholds ex-consultant Jiau's insider trading conviction

Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:48pm EDT
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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of Winifred Jiau, a California technology consultant who prosecutors said used code language to disguise an insider trading scheme in which she gave live lobsters and other gifts in exchange for nonpublic information.

Jiau, 46, is the first consultant criminally convicted in a broad U.S. insider trading sweep unveiled four years ago.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Wednesday rejected Jiau's arguments that her securities fraud and conspiracy conviction was improperly based on illegal wiretaps and a lack of evidence that her tippers personally benefited from their disclosures.

It also upheld Jiau's four-year prison sentence but threw out a $3.12 million forfeiture order, citing an interim decision in an unrelated case. The appeals court suggested that the sum should be reduced, and directed a lower court to recalculate it.

Jiau, a Taiwan native and former consultant at Primary Global Research, has been incarcerated since her December 2010 arrest for passing tips about financial results of chipmakers Marvell Technology Group Ltd (MRVL.O: Quote) and Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O: Quote) to hedge fund managers from 2006 to 2008.

Randa Maher, a lawyer for Jiau, said she expected the ruling on the forfeiture order, and that her client will review her options on the remainder of the 2nd Circuit decision.

Jennifer Queliz, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan, declined to comment.