The fate of Mathew Martoma, the former SAC Capital portfolio manager charged with the biggest insider trade in history — more than $275 million in profits and avoided losses, says the government — is now in the hands of a 12-person jury, which began deliberations in a Manhattan courthouse Tuesday afternoon.
But whatever the verdict for Martoma, the trial has been bad news for someone else: Martoma’s former boss, SAC head Steve Cohen. Given the slow, but relentless, nature of the government’s actions against Cohen, it might be worth remembering the old adage: It ain’t over til it’s over.
Cohen has, to date, famously avoided any criminal charges personally — despite a string of other government actions against both him and his firm. Last March, SAC agreed to pay more than $600 million to settle civil insider trading charges, brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, involving Martoma’s trade. Then, on July 19, the SEC charged Cohen with failing to supervise his employees, alleging that he “received highly suspicious information that should have caused any reasonable hedge fund manager to investigate the basis for trades” made by Martoma and another manager.
SAC quickly fired back. A 43-page internal white paper rebutting the SEC’s charges was leaked to the press. In it, SAC claimed that its compliance efforts were so fantastic that the SEC was just wrong, wrong, wrong in accusing Cohen of failing to supervise his employees.
Among other things, the firm’s lawyers wrote, “SAC’s compliance team, with Cohen’s full support, deploys some of the most aggressive communications and trading surveillance in the hedge fund industry.” That included a “review of trading made around market moving events and corporate access events” along with “regular reviews of the firm’s most-profitable trades.” SAC lawyers also asserted, “Cohen has frequently forwarded to compliance staff communications he receives that caused him concern.”