UPDATE 1-Expert pleads guilty in U.S. insider probe

Tue Jul 5, 2011 8:31pm EDT

Related Topics

* Ex-Flextronics director latest to plead in broad probe

* Shimoon gave illegal tips on Apple iPad, iPhone

* He faces up to 30 years in prison (Adds Flextronics no comment)

By Basil Katz

NEW YORK, July 5 (Reuters) - A former senior director at Flextronics International (FLEX.O) pleaded guilty on Tuesday, telling a U.S. judge he was paid $200 an hour by an expert network firm to spill inside information to hedge funds.

Walter Shimoon, 39, was the latest out of more than a dozen accused in a broad insider trading probe to plead guilty in Manhattan federal court to working illegally while consulting for Primary Global Research (PGR).

At the plea hearing on Tuesday, Shimoon told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff that he was paid $200 an hour by PGR to give secrets about Flextronics or its customers to hedge funds and investors, often over the phone.

"On these calls, I offered specific non-public information," Shimoon said.

A U.S. representative for Singapore-based electronics equipment maker Flextronics, Renee Brotherton, declined to comment on the guilty plea.

Shimoon, arrested in December, was accused of leaking secrets about Apple Inc (AAPL.O) iPad ahead of its launch and giving up new details about the company's iPhone 4.

Following an agreement with prosecutors, Shimoon pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud and one count of securities fraud. He faces up to 30 years in prison at his July 8, 2013 sentencing.

Shimoon on Tuesday also said he provided production schedules and sales forecasts for Flextronics provider Omnivision Technologies (OVTI.O) to PGR customers.

"I knew they (the customers) used the information I provided in purchasing and selling securities," Shimoon said.

One customer, identified in court papers as a hedge fund in White Plains, New York, was named in court by assistant U.S. Attorney Antonia Apps as Kingdom Ridge Capital. Shimoon's contact there, Apps said, was employee Nick Caputo. Caputo did not immediately return a call requesting comment.

Court documents unsealed on Tuesday said the hedge fund made $560,000 in profits in October 2009 by trading on Flextronics secrets provided by Shimoon.

Kingdom Ridge Capital, founded in 2008 by two former SAC Capital Advisors LP employees, had under $350 million invested in U.S. equities according to a recent regulatory filing.

In the ongoing investigation, a number of former SAC traders and analysts have either been implicated or investigated but no charges have been filed against SAC Capital's founder, the billionaire trader Steven Cohen or any other SAC employees.

Shimoon in court also admitted to being paid $27,500 by independent research firm Broadband Research.

A lawyer for John Kinnucan, the firm's owner, declined to comment on the hearing, but said his client was innocent of any wrongdoing.

"John Kinnucan did not do anything wrong," attorney Nathaniel Burney said.

The case is USA v Shimoon et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 10-mj-2823.

(Reporting by Basil Katz; Additional Reporting by Matthew Goldstein; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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