SEC

The SEC’s tack angered the SAC chief, the people close to the firm said. The billionaire hedge-fund manager has been discussing plans to move forward with his business, even as the government has stepped up its scrutiny…Even so, Mr. Cohen has said privately that he believes he can raise new money from wealthy individuals, the people said. While institutions have pulled money, some wealthy individual SAC clients have stuck by the firm, according to people with knowledge of the matter. [WSJ]

The thing is that when you run a hedge fund and “At least nine current or former … employees have been linked to insider trading while working at the firm, including four who have pleaded guilty to crimes,” the SEC really ought to charge you with “fail[ing] reasonably to supervise” your employees, no? At least? Whether or not you were insider trading yourself, you weren’t exactly “continuing to maintain a first-rate compliance effort woven into the fabric of the firm.”

So my first reaction to the SEC’s case against Steve Cohen was “what took so long” but then I read the complaint and it is worth the wait, full of information that we haven’t seen before and that is … awkward. Here is the best of it, emphasis added for Steve’s own words: Read more »

Sayeth SAC: Read more »

The decision to call former Goldman saleswoman Gail Kreitman out of order comes a day after a combative back and forth between the SEC and one of its top witnesses: Paolo Pellegrini, a former lieutenant to billionaire hedge-fund manager John Paulson. Her testimony is important because she may be the first witness to link Mr. Tourre to statements made to ACA Financial Guaranty Corp., which acted as the portfolio-selection agent on the transaction. The SEC has alleged that Mr. Tourre hid from ACA that Mr. Paulson’s hedge fund, Paulson & Co., planned to bet against the deal. As part of her testimony, the SEC is expected to play a tape recorded by ACA’s phone system in which Ms. Kreitman reportedly says that Paulson was taking a “hundred percent of the equity” in the deal, implying it was betting the instrument’s value would rise, not fall…Matthew Martens, a SEC lawyer, said Thursday that the regulator decided to change the order of its witnesses in an effort to speed the presentation of its case. The SEC is considering limiting the testimony of or not calling at all David Gerst, one of Mr. Tourre’s closest colleagues at Goldman, Mr. Martens said. Mr. Gerst had been expected to testify as early as Thursday. The late notice didn’t make the defense happy: they said the parties had reached a handshake agreement to give the other side 48 hours notice before a witness was called. [WSJ]

Over drinks!

In testimony Wednesday, Paolo Pellegrini, the former Paulson & Co managing director, said he made clear to ACA Capital Holdings Inc that Paulson wanted to bet against the deal.

“As I told all collateral selection agents, we were interested in shorting a CDO, shorting subprime securities in a CDO,” said Pellegrini, one of the architects of hedge fund manager John Paulson’s bet against subprime mortgages in 2006 and 2007. …

Pellegrini, one of two people who worked on Paulson’s strategy to take the stand so far, testified Wednesday he believed he told the principal employee at ACA working on Abacus, Laura Schwartz, about Paulson’s strategy over drinks during a “shindig” for people in the CDO industry.

“I think there was some discussion of the portfolio and what we were trying to accomplish by shorting the market,” he said.

That’ll liven up the murderous boredom of the Fabrice Tourre trial! Read more »

Labaton Sucharow is a law firm whose business consists of getting disgruntled financial industry employees to sue their employees for various bits of naughtiness, and taking a cut of whatever money those disgruntled employees can get from a lawsuit or settlement. One of their clever marketing techniques is to hire a survey firm to identify financial services employees willing to talk shit about their employers on the internet,1 because those employees are a promising source of money for Labaton Sucharow. In fact only about a quarter of those employees actually have anything negative to report, and presumably not all of that is lawsuit-worthy, but marketing is hard and you shouldn’t expect a particularly high hit rate. The trick is to just get a lot of at-bats and something will eventually pan out.

Also the PR is amazing? Here is an Andrew Ross Sorkin column titled “On Wall St., a Culture of Greed Won’t Let Go” that sort of takes this survey as a fact about the world rather than a marketing document, so is all like “oh you and your greed, Wall Street!” Read more »

“The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission did not properly vet as many as 70 contractors with possible criminal records, including one man who later assaulted his girlfriend in a lobby at SEC headquarters, the agency’s internal watchdog has found…SEC spokesman John Nester said the agency has implemented numerous changes since the report was completed, from installing additional physical security barriers to putting the SEC’s security staff in charge of criminal background checks instead of human resources.” [Reuters]