* Finra sent Grassley 20 instances of suspicious trading
* No allegations of wrongdoing made against fund
* Meeting with congressional staff "appropriate"-SAC
(Adds SAC's Sullivan's title)
By Ann Saphir and Matthew Goldstein
CHICAGO/NEW YORK, May 21 A powerful U.S.
Republican lawmaker is investigating possible insider trading
at SAC Capital Advisors LLP, highlighting increased public
scrutiny of potential wrongdoing by hedge funds.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority last week
provided Senate Judiciary Committee head Charles Grassley with
about 20 instances of suspicious trading at the hedge fund, a
spokeswoman for the senator confirmed on Saturday.
Grassley had asked Finra in April for information on any
such trading at Steven Cohen's $13 billion hedge fund.
It was not clear if the trades had been referred to the
Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement staff, and
authorities have not alleged wrongdoing by SAC or Cohen.
The government has been investigating current and former
SAC employees since U.S. prosecutors announced a huge insider
trading case involving the Galleon Group in October 2009. SAC
Capital employees Donald Longueuil and Noah Freeman have
pleaded guilty to charges. [ID:nN28188133]
Earlier this month Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam was
convicted on insider trading charges in a sweeping government
victory in the case.
Court filings also show prosecutors are investigating trade
accounts at SAC, including one tied to Cohen, SAC Capital's
SAC representatives and congressional investigators met in
Washington on May 10 to discuss possible suspicious trades,
according to the Wall Street Journal, which earlier reported
Grassley's receipt of information from Finra.
At the meeting, SAC representatives suggested the
investigators go easy on the hedge fund, saying it has internal
procedures to track down and prevent illegal trading, according
to the Wall Street Journal report.
Also at the meeting, SAC Capital's Washington-based policy
adviser Michael Sullivan cited Cohen's "civic-minded interest"
in purchasing a stake in the the New York Mets baseball team,
the report said.
"We welcomed the opportunity to meet with the staff to
educate them about the firm and our compliance efforts, and had
an entirely appropriate, professional and cordial meeting,"
said SAC Capital spokesman Jonathan Gasthalter. "We will
continue to cooperate in any way we can."
(Reporting by Ann Saphir with reporting by Matt Goldstein;
editing by Christopher Wilson)