US files criminal charges against hedge fund SAC Capital
NEW YORK (AP) - The hedge fund operated by embattled billionaire Steven Cohen was hit with white-collar criminal charges on Thursday, less than a week after federal regulators accused him in a related civil case of failing to prevent insider trading at his firm.
SAC Capital Advisors is charged with wire fraud and four counts of securities fraud; prosecutors allege the crimes were carried out from 1999 through at least 2010. Mr Cohen himself was not named as a defendant in the criminal case, but the charges could threaten to topple a firm he founded and that once managed US$15 billion (S$18.9 billion) in assets.
Last week, an SAC Capital spokesman said the related allegations brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have "no merit" and that "Steve Cohen acted appropriately at all times". SAC Capital has been at the centre of one of the biggest insider-trading fraud cases in history. Four employees have already been criminally charged with insider trading, and two of them have pleaded guilty. And an SAC affiliate has agreed to pay US$615 million to settle SEC charges.
Mr Cohen, who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, is one of the highest-profile figures in American finance and one of the richest men in America. He is among the handful of upper-tier hedge fund managers on Wall Street who pull in about US$1 billion a year in compensation.