A former fund manager at SAC Capital Advisors LP pleaded guilty Thursday in connection to an insider-trading case that involves him being caught on tape telling his best friend he destroyed evidence of the crime after news of a federal investigation into the $1.3 trillion hedge fund industry was made public.
Donald Longueuil was indicted in March, charged with securities fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Initially he pleaded not guilty, saying there wasn’t evidence to prove the information he allegedly received was from an insider at Marvell Technology Group (MRVL) or Nvidia Corp. (NVDA). He faces up to 57 months in prison.
“I am sorry for my actions and the pain that I have caused my family and loved ones,” Longueuil told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.
Longueuil’s friend, fellow SAC trader Noah Freeman, agreed to work with federal authorities and gave the government the evidence it needed to go after Longueuil as well as several others related to insider trading rings.
The two had been good friends. Longueuil was the best man at Freeman’s 2009 wedding. Freeman was a groomsman at his. They both competed with the Bay State Speedskating Club in Massachusetts and their families often vacationed together. After Freeman was caught trading on inside information he agreed to turn on his buddy, wearing a wire for the government. In the recorded conversation prosecutors say Longueuil told Freeman he destroyed two external hard drives and a flash drive with pliers and then threw the pieces into garbage trucks around Manhattan so he wouldn’t be caught.
Also charged in the case is Samir Barai, founder of the $300 million Barai Capital Management hedge fund. Federal authorities say Barai traded on inside information dating back to when he worked at Tribeca Global Management, hedge fund owned by Citigroup (C), shuttered in 2008. Barai’s researcher, Jason Pflaum, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with federal authorities.
The three money managers -- Longueuil, Freeman and Barai -- shared tipsters and formed a “triangle of trust,” which they used to make more than $1 million in illegal profits, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. In 2008, Barai and Freeman were tipped off to confidential earnings information on Marvell from Primal Global consultant Winifred Jiau. Primary Global Research is an expert-networking firm that connects investors with corporate consultants.
The defendants are among 26 people charged in what prosecutors say was a series of insider-trading rings tied to ex-Galleon hedge fund co-founder Raj Rajaratnam.
Rajaratnam is the central figure in the government’s multiyear crackdown on insider trading. He is charged with 14 counts of conspiracy and securities fraud. The government claims he made nearly $64 million illegally between 2003 and 2009. He maintains he did nothing wrong. The jury in that case began deliberating Monday.