By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -A former Goldman Sachs banker, a former FBI agent trainee, and a technology executive were among those charged on Monday with insider trading in separate schemes that together generated millions of dollars in profits, U.S. prosecutors said.
“Each of the defendants charged today corrupted the integrity of the markets,” Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan and one of Wall Street’s main cops, told reporters.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed related civil charges over the trading schemes.
Among those charged were former Goldman Sachs Vice President Brijesh Goel, who faces six counts of securities fraud and obstruction of justice for allegedly giving a co-conspirator non-public information about potential mergers and acquisitions beginning in February 2017. He now works at private equity firm Apollo Global Management.
The co-conspirator, identified by the SEC as Goel’s friend Akshay Niranjan, used the tips to trade in securities of some of the companies targeted for deals – including Spirit Airlines Inc and drugmaker Patheon – and split $280,000 in profits with Goel, prosecutors said.
Goel’s attorney, Reed Brodsky, said Goel “looks forward to demonstrating his innocence.”
A Goldman Sachs spokesperson said Goel’s alleged conduct was “egregious and illegal” and violates the firm’s standards. The bank is cooperating with the SEC and Department of Justice, the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for Apollo said Goel was “immediately placed on indefinite leave” when the company learned about the allegations on Monday, and that the alleged behavior took place before he joined the firm around a year ago.
Prosecutors also charged Seth Markin, the former FBI trainee, with insider trading for allegedly buying shares of Pandion Therapeutics Inc before a February 2021 tender offer for the company by Merck & Co.
Markin allegedly learned of the deal by reviewing documents belonging to his then-romantic partner, who worked at a law firm representing Merck.
In a third case, prosecutors said Amit Bhardwaj, a former executive at laser specialist Lumentum Holdings Inc, bought shares in Coherent Inc after learning Lumentum planned to acquire the company.
Lawyers for Markin and Bhardwaj did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Prosecutors separately announced charges against former U.S. Representative Stephen Buyer for insider trading ahead of a major telecoms tie-up.
Williams, who took office last year after being nominated by President Joe Biden, said the cases showed his office is still focused on insider trading in publicly traded securities, even though recent financial fraud cases have involved private funds and digital assets.
So far this year, Williams’ office charged Bill Hwang with fraud and racketeering related to the meltdown of Archegos Capital Management, the private investment firm he founded, and reached a $6 billion settlement with Germany’s Allianz SE over the collapse of funds run by its U.S. asset management unit.
Williams’ office also has brought its first-ever insider trading cases involving cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by David Gregorio, Leslie Adler and Bill Berkrot)