Trial to focus on trades by SAC's Cohen

Mon Jan 6, 2014 12:49pm EST
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By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A trial starting this week over what U.S. prosecutors call the most lucrative insider trading scheme ever will likely delve into the trading activity of Steven A. Cohen, founder of the SAC Capital Advisors hedge fund.

Mathew Martoma, a former SAC portfolio manager, is charged with using confidential information provided by two doctors involved in clinical trial to trade in drug companies Elan Corp Plc ELNCF.PK and Wyeth, which is now owned by Pfizer Inc PFE.N.

The trial is part of a crackdown on insider trading by federal prosecutors in New York. Since October 2009, 78 people have either pleaded guilty or been convicted in an unbroken winning streak for prosecutors at trial.

Much of the investigation has centered on improper trading activities at SAC Capital, where eight current or former employees, including Martoma, have been criminally charged.

In papers filed in court ahead of his trial, prosecutors charge that in 2008 SAC began selling off a $700 million position in Elan and Wyeth - mostly held in Cohen's own accounts - and placed bets against the companies after Martoma received tips from the doctors.

The hedge fund made profits and avoided losses amounting to $276 million, the prosecutors said.

Cohen has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged criminally.

Martoma, 39, who was arrested at his home in Boca Raton, Florida, in November 2012, has pleaded not guilty and not cooperated with prosecutors.   Continued...

Hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen, founder and chairman of SAC Capital Advisors, responds to a question during a one-on-one interview session at the SkyBridge Alternatives (SALT) Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Marcus