The co-founder of a New York hedge fund that once had just under $1 billion in assets was accused of insider trading by U.S. securities regulators, in an investigation that stems from the long-running Galleon hedge fund probe.
Robert Feinblatt, who shut his Trivium Capital Management firm in late 2008, was charged in a civil lawsuit on Monday with receiving illegal stock tips from Galleon defendant and cooperating witness Roomy Khan. The case comes as authorities ramp up trading probes involving hedge funds, and Galleon founder Raj Rajaratnam prepares for his criminal trial starting next month.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said Trivium obtained more than $15 million of illicit trading profits in the alleged scheme. Trivium specialized in investing in technology, healthcare and consumer stocks.
Khan had worked as a consultant to Feinblatt, who started Trivium after leaving hedge fund SAC Capital in 2002. A voice mail message left for Feinblatt, 41, at his Manhattan home was not immediately returned.
Today's action reveals disturbingly corrupt arrangements -- faithless company executives who secretly pass corporate information to hedge fund managers willing to violate the law for profit, SEC enforcement chief Robert Khuzami said in a statement.
The SEC, in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in New York, said the leaked information concerned earnings results for Google Inc and videoconferencing company Polycom Inc, as well as pending takeovers of Hilton Hotels Corp by Blackstone Group LP and software company Kronos Inc by Hellman & Friedman LLC.
Besides Feinblatt, the SEC also filed charges against Trivium analyst Jeffrey Yokuty, 37, of New York, Polycom executive Sunil Bhalla, 54 of Fremont, California and Shammara Hussein, 25, also of Fremont, who had worked at Market Street Partners, an investor relations consultant that did work for Google.
Legal counsel for Yokuty, Bhalla and Hussein were not known.
The commission said it has now charged 27 defendants in its insider trading enforcement actions that have centered on Galleon. It said the case now involves illicit profits of about $69 million.
The SEC complaint said the inside information was passed through Khan, a former Intel Corp employee, who pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the Galleon case.
Monday's court papers said that Khan tipped Rajaratnam to material nonpublic information she received from Bhalla about Polycom's earnings results for late 2005 and early 2006.
Rajaratnam has been free on bail after being charged criminally and civilly in October 2009. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial on February 28.
Since authorities first unveiled the Galleon case, they have brought new charges directly linked to that investigation as well as some indirect cases tied to so-called expert network firms that match hedge funds with industry consultants.
Seven consultants linked to expert networking firms were charged in November and December and at least two other cooperating witnesses pleaded guilty in December to charges of conspiracy and securities fraud. They are accused of leaking non-public information that gave certain investors an edge in trading.
Feinblatt's name first surfaced more than a year ago in a Reuters story about the Galleon probe because of his fund's connection to Khan. There is no indication that the SEC charges against Feinblatt are related to the recent expert networks probe.
Since closing his hedge fund, Feinblatt has been submitting posts to investing blog Seeking Alpha, calling himself an individual investor.
The case is SEC v Galleon Management LP et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 09-08811
(Reporting by Grant McCool, Matthew Goldstein and Jon Stempel; Editing by Maureen Bavdek, Andre Grenon and Bernard Orr)