Steven A. Cohen, founder of a $14 billion hedge fund indicted in an allegedly unprecedented insider trading scheme, faces a future without a fund or a multi-billion dollar fortune. On the other hand, he won’t be behind bars.
The U.S. wants to recover hundreds of millions of dollars from Cohen’s fund, SAC Capital Advisors LP, representing the money it made from its alleged illegal trading, and may try to get billions more from Cohen and the company.
Cohen himself wasn’t charged, unlike at least eight former SAC fund managers and analysts who have faced or are facing fraud charges for their roles in a scheme which allegedly involved more than 20 companies and went back as far as 1999.
The government has also filed civil money-laundering charges against the firm, which call for fines and penalties to be determined at a trial, the date of which hasn’t been set. Those civil charges pose the greatest threat to Cohen’s fortune because Bharara’s office alleges that if the fund reinvested the proceeds of illegal insider trading into its capital pool, then the entire pool is tainted and subject to forfeiture.
“Forfeiture, restitution and fines are the real worry for SAC,” said John J. Carney, a former federal securities fraud prosecutor and SEC attorney now at Baker Hostetler LLP. “If the government can establish the alleged fraudulent profits with precision, then they may have the ability to wipe out the firm’s net capital, making bankruptcy or a receivership a real threat.”
In its civil suit, the U.S. alleges that SAC engaged in money laundering, “comingling the illegal profits from insider trading with other assets, using the profits to promote additional insider trading.”
The government also filed criminal charges against SAC, allowing it to seek forfeiture of ill-gotten gains obtained as a result of the crime, if the firm is convicted.
That might allow the government to make a sizable dent in Cohen’s own wealth: with $9 billion, he’s ranked 121st among the world’s billionaires, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Citing laws that say it has the right to seek the forfeiture of any property involved in money laundering transactions, the government says it is seeking “any and all assets” of SAC Capital Advisors LP, SAC Capital Advisors LLC, CR Intrinsic Investors LLC, Sigma Capital Management LLC, and more than 20 other affiliated investment funds, according to the complaint.