A former technology analyst with Primary Global Research pleaded guilty on Tuesday to leaking confidential company information to hedge funds, part of the U.S. government's broad insider trading probe.
The analyst, Bob Nguyen, is the latest former employee or consultant at so-called expert networking firms to admit to criminal offenses and agree to cooperate in an investigation that began at least three years ago and has been ramped up by federal prosecutors in the past two months.
One of the goals of PGR was to recruit experts at companies to provide certain material nonpublic information, Nguyen, 32, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman at his plea proceeding. I worked at PGR and we had an agreement for me to recruit experts.
Nguyen, who said he worked for Primary Global Research in Mountain View, California, from January 2008 to February 2010, told the court that he passed on secret information about company revenues or supplies either directly or indirectly to the firms' clients by email or telephone. He did not identify the companies or the clients.
A representative of Primary Global Research declined to comment. It is one of several expert networking firms, so called because they match hedge funds with industry experts or insiders.
Nguyen told the court that he passed on nonpublic material information to hedge funds, many of them in New York. The funds were not identified in court nor were the names of companies whose information he leaked.
Nguyen, of Stockton, California, pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud and a second charge of wire fraud. The charges carry a possible prison sentence of up to 25 years, but he is likely to serve a much shorter term because of his cooperation with the government.
He was released on his own recognizance and no sentencing date has yet been scheduled.
(Additional reporting by Matthew Goldstein, Jon Stempel and Emily Chasan, editing by Dave Zimmerman)