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In insider trading cases, getting to the top of the food chain

Dan Bobkoff Nov 29, 2012
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Insider trading charges could be coming to one of the nation’s biggest hedge funds. SAC Capital Advisors reportedly told investors the news on Wednesday.

But one man not named in any of this is Steven Cohen, SAC Capital’s billionaire owner. 

Investigators are clearly looking his way, though. Last week, prosecutors charged former portfolio manager Matthew Martoma with selling shares of drug companies after learning inside information. 

“Mr. Martoma is a means to an end. The end is to implicate Mr. Cohen,” says John Coffee of Columbia Law School. 

SAC is a $14 billion hedge fund. The deals in question allegedly made illegal profits or averted losses of a quarter billion dollars. 

“That’s the largest single insider trading episode in history,” Coffee says. 

Wiretaps were key in recent convictions. For SAC, experts say, prosecutors need to get current or former employees to testify against Cohen. A circumstantial case is hard to prove. 

“One could draw a conclusion that at this stage the government doesn’t feel they have the evidence,” says Jack Sylvia, a lawyer at Mintz Levin. 

An SAC spokesman said in a statement that Cohen and the fund are confident they have acted appropriately. 

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