Ex-SAC manager granted $5 million bail in trading case

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former SAC Capital portfolio manager was released on $5 million bail on Monday after making his first appearance in a New York court on charges of making illegal trades that hedge fund titan Steven A. Cohen personally signed off on.

Former SAC Capital employee Mathew Martoma exits Manhattan Federal court following an appearance on insider trading charges in New York November 26, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Mathew Martoma, 38, of Boca Raton, Florida, was charged last week in what U.S. prosecutors called “the most lucrative” insider-trading scheme ever.

Martoma was accused of helping Cohen’s firm avoid losses and reap profits totaling $276 million in the summer of 2008 by using insider tips he obtained from a doctor about Elan Corp and Wyeth LLC. Martoma worked for CR Intrinsic, a unit of Cohen’s SAC Capital.

Cohen was not charged with wrongdoing, but prosecutors have said in court papers that the “owner” of the hedge fund signed off on Martoma’s recommendation to sell the shares of Elan and Wyeth. A spokesman for SAC Capital said last week that “Mr. Cohen and SAC are confident that they have acted appropriately and will continue to cooperate with the government’s inquiry.”

At a 13-minute hearing in U.S. district court in Manhattan on Monday, Martoma spoke only once, answering “yes, your honor” to a judge’s question. He did not enter a plea.

Magistrate Judge James Cott on Monday agreed to a proposed $5 million bail package for Martoma, who has been free on similar bail conditions since appearing in a Florida court after his arrest on November 20.

Martoma’s wife, Rosemary, attended the hearing and agreed to serve as one of three co-signers for Martoma’s bail.

Charles Stillman, Martoma’s lawyer, has said he is confident his client will be exonerated. Stillman told reporters gathered outside the courtroom Monday that “we took care of business today and we’ll be back another day.”

The Martomas walked to the courthouse exit hand in hand.

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Martoma, who began using Mathew as his first name in the middle of his professional life instead of Ajai, worked for CR Intrinsic in Stamford, Connecticut, until 2010. Before becoming a healthcare stock analyst, he worked in the field of bioethics, serving as deputy director of the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Office of Genome Ethics, according to biographical information attached to a paper he wrote for a Harvard Law journal. He attended Harvard Law School but left before graduating, opting instead for an MBA from Stanford University.

He is the fifth person associated with SAC Capital, one of the most influential hedge funds, to be charged with insider trading in either a criminal or civil proceeding.

In a criminal complaint, authorities said Martoma spoke in July 2008 to the “hedge fund owner” - Cohen - and recommended selling shares of Elan and Wyeth before a negative announcement on clinical trial results for an Alzheimer’s drug jointly developed by the two companies.

U.S. securities regulators, who have filed civil insider-trading charges against Martoma, contend he obtained confidential tips from Sidney Gilman, who was chair of a committee to monitor patient safety during the Alzheimer’s drug’s clinical trial.

Gilman, an 80-year old neurology professor at the University of Michigan, is now cooperating with prosecutors after agreeing to pay a $186,781 disgorgement. A lawyer for Gilman declined to comment last week.

The Securities and Exchange Commission complaint said Gilman worked as a consultant for a so-called expert network. The SEC’s complaint did not name the network, but a disclosure for a 2008 paper Gilman wrote in the journal Neurology stated that Gilman was a consultant for the Gerson Lehrman Group. Hedge funds use such networks to gain insight into various industries.

According to the criminal complaint, Gilman scheduled meetings and phone calls with Martoma that allowed him to pass on new information quickly about the drug trial.

Gilman has also worked as a consultant for the private equity firm Longitude Capital and for the contract research firm PPD Development, according to the 2008 disclosure.

The judge set a December 26 hearing date for Martoma to return to court, but Stillman said he expected it to be pushed back to a later date.

The case is USA v. Martoma, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 12-mag-2985.

Reporting By Emily Flitter and Basil Katz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn