$78M Insider Trading Scam: “Operation Perfect Hedge” Leads to Criminal Charges for Seven Financial Industry Professionals

Criminal charges have been filed against seven men over their alleged involvement in a $78 million insider trading scam. More arrests stemming from “Operation Perfect Hedge,” conducted by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are likely. US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara has described the defendants as friends that established a criminal club with the intent of making a profit.

According to the criminal complaint, four of the men were charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy fraud. The co-conspirators allegedly made close to $78 million. $61.8 million in illegal profits was trades between 2008 and 2009 involving a single stock, and $15.7 million was from Nvidia Corp.-related trades.

High-level executives at some of the country’s largest hedge funds were involved. One of the people arrested was Anthony Chiasson, who co-founded Level Global Investors. Because of insider information that a hedge fund analyst allegedly gave him about a soon-to-be issued announcement regarding Dell Inc.’s 2008 earnings for the first two quarters, he and others at the hedge fund were able to earn about $57 million in illegal trading profits. (The $53 million that Chiasson is accused of pocketing is the largest single illegal trade to be ever cited in a criminal case in Manhattan federal court.)

The insider tip on Dell’s earnings also led to $1M in illegal profits for another hedge fund and $3.8 million at a third one. Meantime, an investment firm was able to use the insider information to prevent about $78,000 in financial losses.

Also arrested were Sigma Capital Management analyst Jon Horvath, hedge fund portfolio manager Todd Newman, who used to work at Diamondback Capital Management LLC, and analyst Danny Kuo. Sandeep Goyal, who is a former Dell employee, has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud. He had gotten the insider information from other Dell employees after he started working at a global asset management firm as an associate analyst. According to authorities, a hedge fund even paid Goyal $175,000 for insider information about Dell.

Two people identified as co-conspirators were Jesse Tortora, who allegedly used tip information from Goyal to tip others and Spyridon (Sam) Adondaki, the Level Global Investors analyst who is accused of tipping Chiasson, who was his manager.
In the past few years, the government has taken more aggressive measures to fight insider trading. These latest arrests raise the number of people arrested in its recent crackdown to 63. 56 convictions have resulted thus far.

‘Corruption on grand scale’ in insider trading case, CNN, January 18, 2012
7 charged in $78M record-setting inside trade case, Fox News/AP, January 18, 2012

More Blog Posts:
Texas Securities Fraud: SEC Charges Life Partners Holdings Inc. in Life Settlement Scam, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, January 4, 2012
Hedge Fund Manager Raj Rajaratnam Ordered by SEC to Pay $92.8M Penalty for Insider Trading, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 12, 2011
Insider Trading: Former FrontPoint Partners Hedge Fund Manager Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 20, 2011
Our stockbroker fraud lawyers are familiar with the devastating impact securities fraud can have on investors. If you believe that your losses are a result of insider trading or another type of investment fraud, contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas, LTD, LLP today.