| NEW YORK, April 8
NEW YORK, April 8 A U.S. judge on Tuesday raised
a series of questions about a proposed $1.2 billion insider
trading accord with billionaire Steven Cohen's investment firm,
formerly known as SAC Capital Advisors, in advance of its
sentencing on Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan issued
an order directing the parties to address how to calculate the
proposed penalty and the qualifications of a newly appointed
The judge also asked if the government's conclusions about
SAC Capital's profits and avoided losses take into account
activities by "all culpable persons" or just the eight
employees already convicted on insider trading charges.
The order came ahead of a hearing Thursday in which Swain is
expected to weigh whether to accept SAC Capital's November
guilty plea to fraud charges and approve a fine of $900 million,
part of a $1.2 billion deal unveiled last year.
The sentencing is expected to mark the end of an era for SAC
Capital, which on Monday officially rebranded itself Point72
Asset Management as it shifted toward being a so-called family
office managing mostly Cohen's own fortune, estimated by Forbes
recently at $11.1 billion.
An indictment unveiled in July alleged a culture of systemic
insider trading from 1999 through 2010, when employees at SAC
Capital engaged in insider trading in the stocks of more than 20
Eight current or former SAC Capital employees have been
convicted on insider trading charges. The firm itself entered a
guilty plea in November to five counts of wire
Cohen has not been criminally charged, but faces an SEC
administrative action seeking to bar him from the securities
industry for failing to supervise two employees and prevent
insider trading. He denies wrongdoing.
The $900 million criminal penalty Swain is being asked to
consider would come on top of another $900 million judgment
approved in November by a different judge in a related civil
The civil judgment gives SAC Capital credit for $616 million
in earlier insider trading settlements with the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission, leaving an additional $1.2 billion in
penalties as part of the criminal accord.
While the civil portion has already been approved, SAC
Capital has the right to withdraw both its guilty plea and its
agreement to pay in the forfeiture action if Swain does not sign
off on the $900 million in penalties.
In her order Tuesday, Swain asked about the qualifications
of Bart Schwartz, a former federal prosecutor tapped to serve as
a compliance consultant to SAC Capital as part of the deal, and
what steps the government took in deciding whether to approve
She asked whether the compliance consultant's
responsibilities would be limited to reviewing SAC's policies
and procedures or if the job would also entail looking at how
they are implemented.
The judge also asked if an "upward departure" was warranted
under part of the federal sentencing guidelines that specifies a
harsher punishment may be warranted if a company failed to have
an effective compliance and ethics program.
The $900 million is already above the $411.5 million to
$822.9 million recommended by the federal sentencing guidelines,
according to a court filing by the government last week.
Representatives for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
and for Point72 declined comment. Schwartz did not immediately
respond to a request for comment.
The case is U.S. v. SAC Capital Advisors LP, U.S. District
Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-00541.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)