Current, Former U.S. Attorneys For The Southern District Of New York Would Like To Respectfully Disagree With The U.S. Court Of Appeals For The Second CircuitBy Jon Shazar
Anthony Chiasson and Todd Newman will be enjoying themselves this evening. Preet Bharara, less so. Read more »
Appelate Court Judge Wonders If Government Can Win An Insider Trading Case In Front Of A Judge Who Doesn’t Stop The Trial Every 5 Minutes To High Five The ProsecutionBy Bess Levin
Just seconds after the prosecutor arguing the appeal introduced herself, the judges grilled her about the case and implied that Mr. Bharara’s office steered insider trading trials to Judge Richard J. Sullivan, who oversaw Mr. Chiasson’s and Mr. Newman’s trial and a subsequent case against another trader. The questioning appeared to send a cautionary message to Judge Sullivan, who is known for often siding with the government, and took a swipe at prosecutors for cherry-picking judges. Judge Barrington D. Parker — interrupting the prosecutor, Antonia M. Apps — referred to Judge Sullivan as the government’s apparent “preferred venue” for insider trading cases. While Ms. Apps argued that consolidating the cases created “judicial efficiencies,” another member of the appellate panel noted the “sheer coincidence that the judge who bought into the government’s theory was the one” assigned to the recent trials. [Dealbook]
As you’ve no doubt noticed, a number of hedge fund managers have in recent years been found guilty by a jury of their peers of insider-trading, a nebulous and gray-area-filled offense that some people think perhaps should not be illegal but which, all the same, is, and which conviction of said crime carries with it the potential for quite a few years in a place where pampered financiers don’t always get the best of it. Given the latter, everyone who has been found so guilty by said jury of said peers has asked judges with higher pay grades to find that, in spite of their deep and abiding faith in American jurisprudence, 12 ordinary men and women committed a grave miscarriage of justice against them.
To date, none have succeeded, or really even come close to succeeding. So it is likely to be for Anthony Chiasson and Todd Newman, late of the late Level Global Investors and the late Diamondback Capital Management, respectively, who got rolled by their former analysts for the sharing of and trading in all manner of secret sauce about Dell Inc. and other technology companies. But man oh man, what if they did succeed where all others have failed? Let’s just say you could cancel that twice-life-size bronze monument to Preet Bharara planned for Foley Square. Read more »
You’re only guilty of criminal insider trading, in America,1 if:
- you trade on information that is material and nonpublic, and
- some other stuff.
The other stuff is mostly stuff that only a lawyer could love, but man do they love it. It consists most importantly of the rule that the person who gives you the material nonpublic information needs to have done so in breach of some duty to keep the information secret and in order to get some personal benefit for himself. If a stranger just wanders up to you and says “I’m the CEO of Smerbafife and it’s a giant fraud, gotta go,” and you trade on that: you’re probably good.
This doesn’t help very often, though, since the personal benefit for the tipper doesn’t have to be an explicit bribe, or an explicit anything; just a desire to spice up your friendship with some material nonpublic information can qualify.2 (Also: usually there are bribes. You start with casual venting of frustrations and the next thing you know you’re accepting bags of cash in parking lots.)
The Next Defendant To Chew Gum In U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan’s Courtroom Gets An Extra 6 MonthsBy Bess Levin
Anthony Chiasson, the co-founder of the hedge fund Level Global Investors, was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison today for illegal trading in two tech stocks…Throughout the hearing, Chiasson sat surrounded by his lawyers, chewing gum furiously. “What I keep coming back to is this crime, these crimes, were committed over a long period of time, over a time when you were already fabulously wealthy,” said Judge Sullivan. “I don’t know if I’ve ever sentenced someone as wealthy as you.” He added: “It’s hard to understand why someone would risk something like that.” Chiasson’s lawyers, meanwhile, reviewed the many good deeds their client had done in life, his role as a family man with two small children and the fact that he was an altar boy when he was 8 years old. When it came time for Judge Sullivan to deliver the verdict, Chiasson, 39, stood up and shoved his hands deep into his pockets, his jaw chomping away the whole time. After informing Chiasson that he would be spending 78 months in prison, Sullivan said: “You conducted yourself with dignity—except for chewing gum.” [BusinessWeek]
It gives me no particular pleasure to update the ol’ insider trading sentencing chart every time a new person is convicted of insider trading, but I view it as a public service for the less instinctually law-abiding among our readers and here we are:
After three days of deliberations, a jury convicted Anthony Chiasson, a co-founder of Level Global Investors, and Todd Newman, a former portfolio manager at Diamondback Capital Management. The two had denied charges that they participated in a conspiracy that made more than $70 million illegally trading technology stocks.
Anyway chart (background here):
As, like, half of Manhattan gets convicted of insider trading, this chart has gotten a bit raggedy; various forms of cooperation or sympathy or silliness of the sentencing guidelines will move you off the predicted lines. Read more »