For instance, when asked by attorney Theodore Wells why there was no section on his CV detailing his involvement in insider trading (“Your resume says nothing about how you had deceived people for years, correct?” Wells asked), Nicos Stephanou, an associate director of mergers and acquisitions responded that he just preferred "not to have criminal activities linked to my name," which, sure, makes sense (although there are some shops that would give you an immediate call back if they saw that, and possibly an offer over the phone). It's not that he was embarrassed about sharing the material, non-public information he had at his disposal. Far from it, in fact.
Stephanou, 36, has pleaded guilty and is testifying in exchange for leniency. He said last week that he routinely told friends from New York and his native Cyprus about companies that were to be acquired. Some trades were executed through offshore accounts he set up, and Stephanou and his friends split the profits, he said. “He was a close personal friend of mine and I was happy to help him,” Stephanou said of Joseph Contorinis, the former general partner of the Jefferies Paragon Fund accused of earning more than $7 million and avoiding losses of millions more by trading on tips from Stephanou.
That's just what friends do, okay? They scratch each others' back, they help each other trade on hot tips, they provide alibis when one or the other is accused of knocking off a hobo, and they treat each other to exquisite, unforgettable sushi lunches.
As the deal was being negotiated in December 2005, Stephanou said he alerted Contorinis and other friends to the progress of the talks. Contorinis sold all his Albertsons stock before news that the talks collapsed became public, prosecutors said. After negotiations resumed, and a group that included Cerberus and Supervalu Inc. agreed to buy Albertsons in January 2006, Stephanou testified that he again leaked the news to Contorinis, who immediately bought $45 million in shares.
Days later, Contorinis footed the bill as the two celebrated over sushi at Masa, a restaurant in Manhattan’s Time Warner Center, according to court testimony.
“It was the most, you know, exquisite dinner, sushi dinner I’ve ever had,” Stephanou testified, as prosecutors showed jurors the menu from his $1,000 meal. “I had asked them to send it to me so I’d have it as a reference, as memorabilia,” Stephanou said of the menu.