Prosecutors crack down on “criminal club” insider-trading scheme

Former Whittier Trust analyst Danny Kuo is the fourth member to plead guilty

Sometimes joining a club isn’t the best idea—at least when the premise isn’t exactly legal. Last Friday, federal prosecutors announced that a fourth member of a “criminal club” of inside traders has pled guilty to criminal charges.

Danny Kuo, formerly a vice president at Whittier Trust Co., admitted his guilt in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan. He described his involvement in a group of investment professionals—analysts and portfolio managers at various hedge funds and investment firms—who pooled nonpublic information about technology companies and either personally traded on it or passed it on to others at their firms.

Kuo told prosecutors that he personally traded on financial information he received about computer manufacturer Dell Inc. and graphics company NVIDIA Corp. He added that he shared information with his boss, and that he paid cash for tips from friends about NVIDIA.

“During the time I did these things, I knew what I was doing was wrong,” Kuo said at the hearing.

As a result of his dealings, Kuo helped Whittier avoid $78,000 in losses, and the investment firms where he and his fellow club members worked amassed more than $61.8 million in profits.

Kuo pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of securities fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each securities fraud charge, but is expected to receive a much shorter sentence due to his cooperation with prosecutors.

Other alleged club members: Anthony Chiasson, a former hedge-fund manager at Level Global Investors; Jon Horvath, a technology analyst with SAC Capital Advisors' Sigma Capital Management division; and Todd Newman, a former portfolio manager with Diamondback Capital Management; also were charged along with Kuo in January, but have all denied wrongdoing.

The Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force is handling these cases, and says that prosecutors are likely to introduce significantly more evidence at trial.

For more, read the Wall Street Journal and a press release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.