It seems everyone has their own pet theory about why the SEC chose now to move against hedge fund titan Steven A. Cohen after years of being part of the hunt along with the FBI and federal prosecutors.
Here are few of them that I got from talking to a number of legal eagles: including former prosecutors and regulators.
The most obvious one is that securities regulators, unlike federal prosecutors, are bumping up against a pretty hard and fast five-year deadline for filing charges against Cohen and it was pretty much now or never. In pursuing a failure to supervise charge against Cohen in an administrative proceeding, the Securities and Exchange Commission is gunning to put Cohen out of business without actually charging he has done any insider trading himself.
Yet if the SEC is successful in barring Cohen from managing other people’s money it may be enough of a victory after nearly 10 years of on-and-off investigation which has failed to produce sufficient evidence that Cohen knowingly engaged in insider trader, encouraged others at his SAC Capital to do so, or was actually even aware improper trading was taking place.
In this view, the SEC is playing tough guy—something it is often accused of not doing—and trying to make the most out of what is a fairly weak hand.