U.S. jury convicts former Millennium Global portfolio manager

NEW YORK Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:04am EST

NEW YORK Dec 18 (Reuters) - A U.S. jury has found former London-based portfolio manager Michael Balboa guilty of fraud and conspiracy in a scheme to inflate his hedge fund's assets by manipulating the value of Nigerian debt, a court officer said on Wednesday.

Jurors issued their verdict on the former Millennium Global Investments Ltd manager after a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty in Manhattan. A mistrial had been declared in July in an earlier trial.

Balboa was charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, investment adviser fraud and two counts of conspiracy.

His lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case centered on the Millennium Global Emerging Credit Fund, which invested in emerging markets corporate and sovereign debt. According to investigators, it once reported $844 million in assets.

The U.S. Department of Justice alleged Balboa inflated the value of warrants tied to Nigerian debt in which payments were based on the price of oil.

The government said this made the fund appear healthier than it was, and inflated the fees that Balboa could collect.

Balboa had worked at Millennium from December 2006 until October 2008, when his fund shut down.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a related civil lawsuit.

The case is U.S. v. Balboa, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-cr-00196.

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