Breaking: Judge accepts SAC’s guilty plea, criminal penalty still under discussion in courtroom

U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain accepted a guilty plea by SAC Capital on insider trading charges, but some other issues were still being ironed out on the settlement late Thursday morning.

The widely followed case against SAC Capital moved forward on Thursday, with the once thriving hedge fund pleading guilty to insider-trading charges.

U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain had some late questions, which she directed to lawyers on both sides of the case. But she did accept the firm’s guilty plea on Thursday in a Manhattan federal court, news reports said.

And The Wall Street Journal reported, “nearly an hour into a hearing over the settlement, … Swain had yet to rule on whether to approve the $900 million criminal penalty the hedge-fund agreed to pay last November.” The criminal penalty is part of the total proposed $1.8 billion settlement plan. Included in that amount is a $900 million civil forfeiture that, in effect, was reduced to $284 million, after SAC made payments to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Swain, as of Thursday morning, was still discussing the terms of the settlement, according to a report from Bloomberg News.

The amount of the proposed settlement sets a record, according to news reports, and the compromise settlement benefits both sides of the case.

“Both sides in this case can claim victory,” Doug Burns, a former federal prosecutor, told Bloomberg. For instance, SAC founder Steven Cohen was never charged.

“Cohen can say ‘they didn’t have the ability to prosecute me individually because I did nothing wrong.’ And the government gets to say this was a place with a horrid culture and while the evidence didn’t enable us to prosecute Steve Cohen, we got a very, very sizable monetary fine out of the culmination of all our efforts,” Burns said. SAC has apologized for the actions of its eight convicted employees.

Meanwhile, SAC Capital has taken a new name: Point72 Asset Management. The new entity will manage the personal funds belonging to Cohen, according to InsideCounsel. Those personal assets total $11.1 billion, Forbes reported.

Still, there are lingering questions what issues Cohen could face in the future. The settlement “appears to set a limit on what SAC itself might have to pay, it still doesn’t put … Cohen … in the clear,” The New York Post reported.

The federal indictment charged SAC “with insider trading offenses committed by numerous employees, occurring over the span of more than a decade, and involving the securities of more than 20 publicly-traded companies across multiple sectors of the economy,” according to a statement released last year by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.


Further reading:

Judge in SAC Capital case wants answers to questions before sentencing

SAC to shut down following $1.2B settlement with U.S. government

 

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Ed Silverstein

Ed Silverstein is a veteran writer and editor for magazines, websites and newspapers. A graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, he has won several...

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