SAC's Steinberg loses bid for insider trading acquittal

Thu May 15, 2014 6:53pm EDT
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By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday rejected a request to acquit Michael Steinberg, a day before the scheduled sentencing on an insider trading conviction for the former portfolio manager at Steven A. Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors hedge fund.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in Manhattan rejected various arguments by Steinberg's lawyers, including that a jury could not have rationally found he knew corporate insiders were receiving benefits to provide illegal tips.

"On the facts presented at trial, a rational jury could find that (Steinberg) knew or was willfully blind to the fact that the tippers breached duties of trust and confidence by disclosing material nonpublic information for their personal benefits," Sullivan wrote.

Barry Berke, a lawyer for Steinberg, declined comment.

A hearing is set on Friday to sentence Steinberg. Prosecutors say he should serve up to 6-1/2 years of prison for trading on inside information.

Prosecutors accused Steinberg, 42, of trading on illegal tips about Dell Inc and Nvidia Corp passed to him by an SAC analyst, who admitted to swapping confidential information among a group of analysts at other hedge funds.

A jury convicted Steinberg in December on charges conspiracy and securities fraud, adding him to what has become a list of eight current or former SAC Capital employees convicted on insider trading charges.

SAC Capital itself has pleaded guilty to fraud charges and has agreed to pay $1.8 billion in criminal and civil settlements.   Continued...

Michael Steinberg (L), a top portfolio manager at Steven A. Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors hedge fund, departs Federal Court in Manhattan after being found guilty on charges that he traded on insider information in New York December 18, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson