SEC Charges SAC’s Lee With Insider Trading
The Securities and Exchange Commission said it has charged Richard Lee, a former portfolio manager at S.A.C. Capital Advisors, with insider trading ahead of major announcements by technology companies.
The SEC alleges that Lee’s illegal trading based on nonpublic information he received from sources with connections to insiders at the technology companies enabled the S.A.C. Capital hedge fund that he managed to generate more than $1.5 million in illegal profits. Lee also made trades in his personal account. The insider trading occurred ahead of public announcements about a Microsoft-Yahoo partnership and the acquisition of 3Com Corporation by Hewlett-Packard.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Lee received inside information in July 2009 from a sell-side analyst familiar with nonpublic negotiations between Microsoft and Yahoo to enter into an Internet search engine partnership. Lee learned that the negotiations, previously the subject of market rumors, were moving forward and a deal could be finalized in the next two weeks. The analyst told Lee that the confidential information came from a close personal friend who worked at Microsoft. Lee thanked the analyst for the “very specific information” and promptly purchased hundreds of thousands of shares of Yahoo stock in a portfolio that he managed on behalf of S.A.C. Capital. Lee also purchased shares of Yahoo stock in his personal trading account. When the imminent deal was reported in the press almost a week later, Yahoo’s stock price rose approximately four percent on the news and S.A.C. Capital and Lee reaped substantial profits.
The SEC further alleges that Lee received highly confidential information about 3Com from a Beijing-based consultant who he knew had close personal ties with executives at the company. When his source tipped him on Nov. 11, 2009, that 3Com was on the verge of being acquired by Hewlett-Packard, Lee quickly purchased several hundred thousand shares of 3Com stock for the S.A.C. Capital hedge fund. On the basis of the nonpublic information, Lee amassed the sizeable 3Com position just minutes before Hewlett-Packard announced it agreed to acquire 3Com for $2.7 billion. The price of 3Com stock jumped more than 30 percent the next day, and the S.A.C. Capital hedge fund reaped substantial illicit profits as a result of Lee’s illegal trades.
In a related story, Bloomberg reported that SAC Capital Advisors told clients, employees and counterparties that it will stay open for business as the U.S. accused the $14 billion hedge-fund firm of engaging in an unprecedented insider-trading scheme over more than a decade.
To read the full SEC news release click here.
To read the Bloomberg article click here.