China-backed buyout fund founder guilty of insider trading: U.S. court

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A partner of a private equity firm with Chinese state backing was found guilty in a U.S. court on Tuesday of insider trading related to the attempted acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor Corp LSCC.O, prosecutors in New York said.

Benjamin Chow, who co-founded Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, was convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy by a jury in Manhattan federal court, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in a statement. Chow is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 20 by U.S. District Judge Gregory Woods.

Lawyers for Chow, 45, could not immediately be reached for comment.

“While we have been informed of the verdict, we have not had the opportunity to review the court’s ruling,” Canyon Bridge said in an emailed statement. “We will be assessing the situation.”

Canyon Bridge’s financing can be traced back to China’s State Council, the top decision-making body of the Chinese government, Reuters had previously reported

Prosecutors charged Chow, a U.S. citizen born in China, with tipping a friend in 2016 about Canyon Bridge’s planned acquisition of Oregon-based Lattice before it was announced, allowing the friend to make about $5 million in profits.

The friend was identified in a separate lawsuit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year as Michael Yin, a former Hong Kong-based private equity executive who had become a hedge fund manager.

U.S. President Donald Trump blocked the Lattice deal in September.

Since then, Canyon Bridge has set its sights on acquisition targets outside of the United States. It closed on the purchase of British chipmaker Imagination Technologies Group Ltd IGNMF.PK for 550 million pounds ($718 million) late last year. The sale did not include a unit of the company, U.S. chip designer MIPS, which was divested to an investment firm.

According to Canyon Bridge’s website, Chow previously ran semiconductor investments for private equity firm Warburg Pincus in Asia, and was a managing director of China Reform Fund Management, a private equity investment firm financed at least in part by China’s government and its state-owned firms.

Two former business partners of Chow who declined to be named said he is a native of Tianjin, a port city 30 minutes from Beijing by high-speed train, and has relatives who work in the Tianjin government.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Additional reporting by Liana Baker and Gui Qing Koh in New York; Editing by Richard Chang