Hedge fund to pay in insider-trading case

SEC says $600M is largest settlement total of its kind

Los Angeles TimesMarch 16, 2013 

— One of the country’s biggest hedge funds has agreed to pay more than $600 million to settle a civil insider-trading case in what the Securities and Exchange Commission said was its largest settlement involving such corruption on Wall Street.

CR Intrinsic Investors, a unit of the Connecticut-based giant SAC Capital Advisors, agreed to pay the penalties in a case stemming from trades involving an Alzheimer’s treatment under development by two drug companies.

Friday’s settlement involves SAC Capital and four other funds managed by CR Intrinsic and SAC. The settlement does not resolve the SEC’s case against Mathew Martoma, a CR Intrinsic fund manager whom the agency also sued in November.

The SEC unveiled its case against Martoma with much fanfare along with the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which charged Martoma criminally. He has denied wrongdoing in the case.

“The historic monetary sanctions against CR Intrinsic and its affiliates are (a) sharp warning that the SEC will hold hedge fund advisory firms and their funds accountable when employees break the law to benefit the firm,” George Canellos, acting director of SEC enforcement, said in a statement.

Sanjay Wadhwa, senior associate director of the SEC’s New York office, added: “A robust culture of compliance and zero tolerance toward employee misconduct can help other firms avoid the severe financial consequences that CR Intrinsic is facing for its misconduct.”

SAC Capital, a $15 billion hedge fund, is run by Steven A. Cohen, who has drawn interest from government investigators. The Martoma case has fueled speculation that the government sees Cohen as its ultimate target.

But, as SAC spokesman Jonathan Gasthalter pointed out in a statement, “Steve Cohen has not been charged with any wrongdoing and has done nothing wrong.”

The SEC also reached a separate $14 million insider-trading settlement with Sigma Capital Management, another SAC Capital fund, involving Dell stock.

“We are happy to put the Elan and Dell matters with the SEC behind us,” Gasthalter said in a statement. “This settlement is a substantial step toward resolving all outstanding regulatory matters and allows the firm to move forward with confidence. We are committed to continuing to maintain a first-rate compliance effort woven into the fabric of the firm.”

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