Hedgefundgate Begins: Numerous Insider Trading Charges Forthcoming

Tyler Durden's picture

Rajmahal was just the beginning. The Sri Lankan, who just made the record books for spending a generous $100 million on bail and has even bigger digs in New York's Sutton Place complex (although not quite Richard Perry big), is just the proverbial appetizer. And if regulators have truly decided to start treating the hedge fund industry like the 21st century equivalent of organized crime (which they have as previously disclosed by the US attorney), tonight many other wannabe billionaires are not sleeping too well (and even considering checking out Expedia for some sweet one-way trip deals). Because if they are not, they will be after reading the most recent take on their upcoming plight. From Bloomberg: "Federal investigators are gearing up
to file charges against a wider array of insider-trading
networks,
some linked to the criminal case against billionaire
hedge-fund manager Raj Rajaratnam that shook Wall Street last
week, people familiar with the matter said." If nothing else, this will hopefully force many of them to reevaluate the nomenclature of what funds to allocate the hundreds of billions of dollars that have emerged from the "sidelines" recently: it would appear The Insider Trading Rapid Value Appreciation Offshore Fund, most recently developed at Shady Pickins Asset Management (SPAM L.P.), may not be the best appellation after all.

And, in the most delicious sense of Kafkaesque irony, nobody is safe anymore: if you have talked on the phone, exchanged text messages, or even communicated in smoke signals to get that $100k "sure thing" - you are on the hook.

The pending crackdown, based on at least two years of
investigation, targets securities professionals including hedge-
fund managers, lawyers and other Wall Street players, the people
said, declining to be identified because the cases aren’t
public. Some probes, like the one that focused on Rajaratnam,
rely on wiretaps. Others stem from a secret Securities and
Exchange Commission data-mining project set up to pinpoint
clusters of people who make similar well-timed stock
investments.

And the following advice demonstrates just why the SEC is so terrified of going after not just the medium fry, but the really big fish (pardon, we may have some interspecies confusion as we realize cephalopods are a different phylum than fish):

“If you’re going to shoot the king, you better shoot to
kill,” said Bradley Bennett, a partner at Baker Botts in
Washington who formerly focused on insider-trading cases as an
SEC investigator. “If they’re going to take on a billionaire,
they need to have the strongest possible cases. The defendant’s
own words are the strongest possible evidence.”

Surprisingly, the SEC is actually taking the right approach in cracking the not so complex web of information leaks:

The SEC began using computer
software about two years ago to sift hundreds of millions of
electronic trading records, known as blue sheets, attached to
the stock exchange reports about suspicious incidents, according
to people familiar with the project. By looking for patterns in
the library of data, they identified groups of traders who
repeatedly made similar well-timed bets.

Once investigators find a cluster of correlated trades,
they tap other sources of information to unravel how its members
obtain and share tips, the people said. For example, if a group
profits on trades before a series of corporate takeovers, the
SEC may check so-called league tables listing which investment
banks or law firms advised the deals. If one firm was involved
in all of them, an employee there may be the source of the leak.

The data-mining strategy yielded one of its first cases in
February, when the SEC and U.S. prosecutors charged takeover
advisers at UBS AG and Blackstone Group LP with taking part in
an $8 million insider-trading case, people familiar with the
inquiry said. Authorities used a “novel” technique to detect the
scheme, the SEC’s lead investigator on the case, Daniel Hawke,
said at the time, without elaborating.

And here is why anonymous and numerous sources within the buyside community advise us that a whole plethora of hedge fund bosses simply picked up and left as soon as the Rajmahal news broke on Friday...

Surveillance during the probe of Rajaratnam, 52, led
investigators to other suspects and more charges are likely,
people familiar with the matter said.
U.S. Attorney Preet
Bharara said Oct. 16 the Justice Department will continue using
wiretaps to root out insider-trading.

Luckily, Raj had a big rolodex, big enough in fact to provide quite a few promising leads to any aspiring regulator. So big in fact, that quite a few of the speed-dial names have already leaked and are making the rounds. Keep an eye out on some of the major $1 billion + HFs tomorrow to see who decides to not show up for work, or at least looks behind their backs every 5 minutes for the guys in the trench coats...

This one is about to get exciting.

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spekulatn's picture

"It looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue."

"MARK IT ZERO, DUDE"

Michael's picture

The national debt clock will cross 12 trillion soon. Maybe by the end of this month.

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Anonymous's picture

That debt clock is a farce. The national debt is $112 trillion when you add in what has been stolen from Social Security and Medicare and are unfunded liabilities.

mberry8870's picture

I would be shocked if the SEC really did it's job.

Anonymous's picture

I would be shocked I'd they did their job fairly. The SEC is just a political tool for the power of the day. WTF they just started using computers to investigate this shit 2 years ago? Welcome to the 20th fucking century SEC; let us know when you want to join us all in the present day

Rusty Shorts's picture

Has anyone seen this ? ...DavidLightman ( aka reinhardt ) calling a market crash on the 19th and 20th Oct 2009.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQETQAW0jZo&feature=sub

AN0NYM0US's picture

posted on Mayhem's thread - Marty Zweig made a similar prediction on Friday October 16 (but for a different decade)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MyToTwag34

Anonymous's picture

Just wait. Steve Cohen will be in Israel or Namibia by Halloween.

Careless Whisper's picture

Less competition for GoldmanSachs (its a bank holding company NOT a hedge fund).

Ruth's picture

GS gave up their bank holding status

Careless Whisper's picture

Oh that's right, now they're a "financial holding company" with full access to the zero interest Federal Reserve Bank window.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/industries/finance/goldman-sachs-financial-holding-company/

 

HEHEHE's picture

One wonders how much of these sudden indictments are timed to draw attention away from the outrage over Goldman's bonus payments.

You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

Everybody should be asking the question:  why are we prosecuting a little fish for getting inside info WHEN GOLDMAN SACHS IS LIKELY MAKING $23 BILLION IN BONUSES FROM INSIDE INFO !!

Anonymous's picture

I would urge people to go to YouTube and watch Louis Reykeyser's Wall Street Week on oct 16, 1987 and then on Oct 23, 1987.

Marty Zweig stated on the 16th that he had been thinking collapse and was afraid to say it (and it wasn't going REALLY to happen for 64 hours after the taping) and a woman speaking for the brokerage business said there could be a dip, but things were great.

I think she is a producer now at CNBC...LOL

AN0NYM0US's picture

I just posted the link above

defender's picture

"The SEC began using computer software about two years ago"

Sounds about right to me...

JohnKing's picture

Sounds like they re-purposed some HFT stuff.

You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

Shocking revelations this week:  The SEC only recently discovered how to get and use wiretaps and computer analysis.

 

Anonymous's picture

Thanks. A good laugh to start the week.

cougar_w's picture

It took them all this time to find a FORTRAN IV programmer who could code to their new IBM 7090 mainframe.

That, and sourcing punch cards.

But they're on it now. Oh yeah.

cougar

Anonymous's picture

Cramer's next...

Jendrzejczyk's picture

Perhaps the authorities will "Deep Capture" that perfect (G)assbag.

FischerBlack's picture

Am I the only one who thinks insider trading bans are stupid? The bans prevent asset prices from moving to their true value at the time that value changes. When is this ever a good idea? If everyone could just trade based on what they know, prices and price movements would trend smoothly ahead of major developments. They would reflect high-quality, important information much sooner. And with all the insiders scrambling to trade on their inside information, the profit-potential of that information to any one insider is degraded significantly. And it might even bring down the average pay of corporate insiders as it would be expected that part of their compensation will be tradeable insider information. I don't know, it just seems there are many reasons to consider getting rid of insider trading bans altogether. 

JohnKing's picture

I'm quite sure they got rid of insider trading bans some time ago. Things have gone very well ever since.

Please don't tell me about Martha Stewart or the occasional ding on some low-rung peon. Insider trading goes on unabated for the white shoe boys, they just call it "networking".

Anonymous's picture

i am certainly open to hearing argumentation to
both sides as i believe that insider trading is
the least of the problems in our financial system....
it is a vast distraction to the more insidious crimes
such as intentionally misrating securities to dupe
buyers; failing to regulate insolvent banks and
financial practices before they caused problems;
funneling money through aig to pay off goldman
sachs; funding bankrupt businesses; suspending
mark to market....etc etc....

the real problems are not being addressed but it
sure makes great theater to trot out the insider
trading spectacle to make it look like we are
doing something....

Howard_Beale's picture

You cannot be serious...your premise is ridiculous. Perhaps you knew about 9/11 and shorted the airlines? Get real. Insider trading bans are not about price discovery. They are about everyone getting the same info at the same time and then price discovery occurs. Just watch after hours on earnings information--that's enough to show who wins and loses in the casino. If I know that XXX co is going down from the CEO of XXX, then I have knowledge that puts me ahead of the pack. It's unfair and wrong.

Anonymous's picture

you haven't shown why it is unfair and wrong....

i am not sure if i agree with the op's point
but i don't think the answer is obvious one
way or the other....

i agree that price discovery is not the issue but
if it is not, what difference does sequence or
timing of information disclosure make?

what right does anyone have to information timing?

i am very open to a defense of insider trading
bans but i haven't seen it here....

JohnKing's picture

Sure Howard that sounds ok, are you suggesting a public information exchange? Perhaps all musings from corporate land be routed through one wire? Of course you would still have those who would get in front of that and game it which leads us back to insider trading bans.

Anonymous's picture

>>Am I the only one who thinks insider trading bans are stupid?<<

yes..what a STUPID comment.

I was a floor trader on Wall Streeet for over 20 years and insider knowldge of orders lined the pockets of traders and regulatory agencies did NOTHING of substance to stop what was widespread.

I saw Najarian introduce "Mr Top Step" on Friday as the top step is where the guys trading more volume stand. He openly stated how the stops were run above the S&P and how they are now below.

"They are now below"? How about hauling Mr. Top Step before a growp of CFTC and SEC lawyers, deposing him, and asking him how the &*%$ he knows where the stops are? It is illegal to divulge one's orders. Find me a case where someone was ever charged. How hard was it to learn of them? Okay...here's how it goes:

"How, the wife, how are the kids, how's your golf game, where are your stops?"

You people not in the business have no idea how corrupt Wall Street is.

Read "The Quiet Coup" in the May Atlantic Monthly to see how powerful they have become down there.

With a little luck, this is going to lead right Paulson, Geithner, and GS and THEN, the mkt will go to the value it belongs at and we might avoid a revolution because with 20% unemployment, people are ready to lynch brokers!

JohnKing's picture

The Najarians should be in jail. They profit from EVERY Recco they make on CNBC, they are MMs for their own touts. Talk about stealing in broad daylight, these guys take the cake.

Anonymous's picture

Thx for the 'insider information' on insider information.

At least once the proles bet it straight from floor.

Anonymous's picture

Until I see big names at big firms fall for the bullshit that got us to this point of underwater homes, epic unemployment, and a Fischer Price pretend market, all these hedgefund charges look like is Goldman Sachs aiming it's gun (the SEC) at the heads of it's competition.

I am a Man I am Forty's picture

That's what it looks like to me.

docj's picture

+1

Head of nail, hammer, some assembly required.

Bring on the show-trials.  Let's make sure a couple of hedge-fund pirates are going to get strung from the yardarm while the admirals of the pirate fleet (GS, JPM, Citi, etc. – you know, the TooBigToFail Armada) will be given free sailing to continue to rape and pillage the taxpayer in broad daylight.  Bread and circuses.

Awesome.

 

cougar_w's picture

Welcome to the updated release of "The Count of Monte Cristo", now set on Wall Street instead of in 18th century Europe.

For the attention-deficit crowd: Everyone stabs everyone else. Everyone dies. It takes 50 years to work itself out. And only the Devil laughs.

cougar

Anonymous's picture

"'If you’re going to shoot the king, you better shoot to kill,' said Bradley Bennett[...]"

In other news, Omar Little sues for copyright infringement.

Anonymous's picture

Go ahead and pull this thread... because it's connected to the entire ball of yarn.

You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

No, they'll pull this thread a little, cut it off and make a sweater, and then the media will spend months telling us how the sweater makers have made the only sweater that -- oh hey, look over there -- a shiny object.

Anonymous's picture

Who is Raj's prime broker?

I am the mole's picture

You're on to something there...

Anonymous's picture

The better question is who isn't Raj's prime broker.

Anonymous's picture

The better question is who isn't Raj's prime broker.

Michael's picture

The real estate news seems to be getting worse. It looks like the second tsunami wave of foreclosures is hitting. Someone should let those crazy Californians know there are some screaming deals over here. I here they got bidding wars again over there.

Foreclosure crisis far from over for South Florida

http://www.miamiherald.com/business/story/1288053.html

 

Anonymous's picture

The guys who thought they were buying at the bottom are the next to be slaughtered. When prices take the next leg down, there will likely be another set of suckers.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

cougar_w's picture

Repeat yes.

But this time your hair all falls out.

And there is no next time.

Anonymous's picture

This is a racist attack on a humble immigrant who came from the slums of Ceylon and made something wonderful of himself.

I'm ashamed for this vicious and unwarranted attack on an immigrant.

There, it's been said.

Now string the bum up.

Anonymous's picture

I don't know what to make of this. There are closed 'networks' that are very restrictive of who they admit - alumni of a specific dorm in a specific college, for example. The purpose is pretty much for leaking specific trading tips for mutual benefit. Some of the dumber ones even used to run as private yahoo groups during the tech bubble, but I am sure there are many more that are off the electronic grid.

The SEC can only go after the big hedge funds because they are more likely to leave a trail. The smaller ones are more decentralized and harder to crack because the only way to get in would be to time-travel back 20 years and stay in that dorm in college...

MsCreant's picture

"whole plethora of hedge fund bosses simply picked up and left as soon as the Rajmahal news broke on Friday..."

Comment 1.

Kinda like roaches if your place is infested and you turn on the light.

Comment 2.

a) I bet there are folks "running" who are not on anyone's list.

b) I wonder if someone is watching to see who runs?