Hedge Fund Manager/Trader Settles Charges with SEC
Insider trading cases pop up every now and again and most cases do not warrant highlighting – post-Boesky everyone in the securities industry is well aware that trading on inside information is illegal. However, it warrants emphasis that the SEC will crack down on hedge fund managers or traders involved with insider trading and the penalties are harsh. The individuals (including a hedge fund manager) involved in the action described in the SEC litigation release reprinted below were subject to fines and disgorgement, of course, but were also barred from the securities industry. The severity of such a penalty underscores the importance of understanding and abiding by the insider trading rules.
As noted below, trading on insider information is illegal under both civil (Section 17(a) of the 1933 act, Section 10(b) of the 1934 act, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder) and criminal laws (generally securities fraud, but depending on the facts charges may also include wire fraud and commercial bribery).
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Litigation Release No. 21244
October 8, 2009
SEC v. Mitchel S. Guttenberg, Erik R. Franklin, David M. Tavdy, Mark E. Lenowitz, Robert D. Babcock, Andrew A. Srebnik, Ken Okada, David A. Glass, Marc R. Jurman, Randi E. Collotta, Christopher K. Collotta, Q Capital Investment Partners, LP, DSJ International Resources Ltd. (d/b/a Chelsey Capital), and Jasper Capital LLC, C.A. No. 07 CV 1774 (S.D.N.Y) (PKC)
Three Defendants in Wall Street Insider Trading Ring Settle SEC Charges
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that on September 29, 2009, the Honorable P. Kevin Castel, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York, entered final judgments against defendants Erik R. Franklin, Q Capital Investment Partners, LP (“Q Capital”), and David M. Tavdy, in SEC v. Guttenberg, et al., C.A. No. 07 CV 1774 (S.D.N.Y.), an insider trading case the Commission filed on March 1, 2007. The Commission’s complaint alleged illegal insider trading in connection with two related schemes in which Wall Street professionals serially traded on material, nonpublic information tipped by insiders at UBS Securities LLC (“UBS”) and Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc. (“Morgan Stanley”), in exchange for cash kickbacks.
The Commission’s complaint alleged that from 2001 through 2006, Mitchel S. Guttenberg, an executive director in the equity research department of UBS, illegally tipped material, nonpublic information concerning upcoming UBS analyst upgrades and downgrades to two Wall Street traders, Franklin and Tavdy, in exchange for sharing in the illicit profits from their trading on that information. The complaint also alleged that Franklin was a downstream tippee in another scheme in which, in 2005 and 2006, Randi Collotta, an attorney who worked in the global compliance department of Morgan Stanley, illegally tipped material, nonpublic information concerning upcoming corporate acquisitions involving Morgan Stanley’s investment banking clients.
The complaint alleged that Franklin illegally traded on the inside information for two hedge funds he managed, Lyford Cay Capital, LP and Q Capital, and in his personal accounts. Tavdy illegally traded on the inside information (i) for Andover Brokerage, LLC and Assent LLC, registered broker-dealers where Tavdy was a proprietary trader, (ii) in his own personal account, (iii) in the accounts of a relative and friend, and (iv) in the accounts of Jasper Capital LLC, a day-trading firm with which Tavdy was associated. Franklin and Tavdy also had downstream tippees who traded on the inside information. Without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint, Franklin, Q Capital, and Tavdy settled the Commission’s insider trading charges.
Franklin and Q Capital consented to the entry of a final judgment which (i) permanently enjoins them from violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”), Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”); and (ii) orders, on a joint and several liability basis, disgorgement of $5,400,000, with all but $290,000 waived based on a demonstrated inability to pay. In a related administrative proceeding, Franklin consented to the entry of a Commission order barring him from future association with any broker, dealer, or investment adviser. In a parallel criminal case, Franklin previously pled guilty to charges of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud and is awaiting sentencing. U.S. v. Erik Franklin, No. 1:07-CR-164 (S.D.N.Y.).
Tavdy consented to the entry of a final judgment which (i) permanently enjoins him from violating Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act; and (ii) orders him to pay disgorgement of $10,300,000. In a related administrative proceeding, Tavdy consented to the entry of a Commission order barring him from future association with any broker or dealer. In a parallel criminal case, Tavdy previously pled guilty to charges of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and was sentenced to 63 months in prison. U.S. v. Mitchel Guttenberg and David Tavdy, No. 1:07-CR-141 (S.D.N.Y.).
The Commission also announced that Samuel W. Childs, Jr., a former general securities principal at Assent LLC, consented to a Commission order barring him from future association with any broker or dealer, based on his criminal conviction for conspiracy to commit securities fraud, wire fraud and commercial bribery. U.S. v. Samuel W. Childs, Jr. and Laurence McKeever, No. 1:07-CR-142 (S.D.N.Y.). In that case, the criminal indictment alleged that Childs accepted bribes from traders at Assent LLC in exchange for not reporting their illegal trading to Assent management.
The Commission acknowledges the assistance and cooperation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
For further information, see Litigation Release Nos. 20022 (March 1, 2007), 20367 (November 20, 2007), 20725 (September 18, 2008), and 21086 (June 16, 2009).
Bart Mallon, Esq. of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP runs Hedge Fund Law Blog. Mr. Mallon’s legal practice is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund. If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund or if you are a current hedge fund manager with questions about the securities laws, please contact us or call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-868-5345. Other related hedge fund law articles include: