Mathew Martoma (39), a former portfolio manager at billionaire Steven Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors hedge fund, was added to the list of Indian-Americans successfully prosecuted by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara when he was found guilty on Thursday of engaging in “the most lucrative insider trading scheme in U.S. history,” to the tune of $275 million.
In a statement Mr. Bharara welcomed the decision of the federal jury in the case, saying, “Martoma cultivated and purchased the confidence of doctors with secret knowledge of an experimental Alzheimer's drug, and used it to engage in illegal insider trading… netting a quarter billion dollars in profits and losses avoided for SAC, as well as a $9 million bonus for him.”
While Mr. Bharara’s office was said to have obtained guilty pleas from or convictions of seven other former portfolio managers or research analysts accused of illegal trading while at SAC, Martoma’s is being seen as unique among these as it appears to be the first to tangentially connect Cohen, the founder of the firm, to alleged illegal transactions.
At the heart of this observation is the investigation’s focus on a 20-minute conversation between Martoma and Cohen shortly after they received information from Sidney Gilman, a University of Michigan doctor and government witness involved in clinical trials for the Alzheimer’s drug.
Mr. Cohen, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing in this case, was said to have ordered the sale of shares in Elan and Wyeth, companies behind the drug in question, in the morning after the call.
The verdict against Martoma followed a four-week trial and 15 hours of deliberation by the jury and has left Martoma facing a maximum of 20 years in prison on two counts of securities fraud and a conspiracy charge, although his final sentence may be closer to ten years, reports suggested.
However for Mr. Bharara the conviction of Martoma marks the 79th scalp in his pursuit of insider trading cases on Wall Street, other notable cases including Indian-American boss of McKinsey and Company, Rajat Gupta, and Sri-Lankan origin hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam.
This week Mr. Bharara said that Martoma’s “cheating… made him a convicted felon, and likely will result in the forfeiture of his illegal windfall and the loss of his liberty.”