SAC Capital Advisors agreed to pay a penalty of $1.8 billion and pleaded guilty to settle the insider trading complaint filed by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).
In a press conference, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara said, “Today, SAC Capital, one of the world’s largest and most powerful hedge funds, agreed to plead guilty, shut down its outside investment business, and pay the largest fine in history for insider trading offenses. That is the just and appropriate price for the pervasive and unprecedented institutional misconduct that occurred here.”
The $1.8 billion penalty include the $616 million settlement fee related to the civil insider trading case against it by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which was agreed by both parties earlier this year.
Government officials emphasized that the penalty imposed against SAC Capital Advisors was “steep but fair” given the extent of the criminal charges against it.
According to Bharara, the settlement agreement does not provide immunity for individuals under investigation from prosecution in the future. He said the DOJ already sent the settlement to the court for approval.
Furthermore, Bharara said, “Greed sometimes is not good and there at least 75 convicted insider trading defendants today would likely agree. No institutions should rest easy in the belief that it is too big to jail.”
On the other hand, FBI Special Agent In-Charge April Brooks said SAC Capital Advisors’ guilty plea showed that “cheating and breaking the law were not only permitted but allowed to persist. SAC focused on hiring the best talent, talent who was equipped with extensive networks to circumvent traditional lines of communication. Talent who would be prepared to get confidential information to fuel their illicit trades.”
Meanwhile, SAC Capital Advisors said, “We take responsibility for the handful of men who pleaded guilty and whose conduct gave rise to SAC’s liability. The tiny fraction of wrongdoers does not represent the 3,000 honest men and women who have worked at the firm during the past 21 years. SAC has never encouraged, promoted or tolerated insider trading.”
Steven Cohen, head of SAC Capital Advisors is expected to manage its personal funds, which is approximately $9 billion. The hedge fund manager will still face the civil charges filed against him by the SEC for allegedly failing to prevent insider trading within the firm. The SEC is seeking penalty and aims to ban Cohen from managing funds from outside investors. Cohen refuted the accusations of the commission.