Move Over FX And Libor, As Manipulation And "Banging The Close" Comes To Commodities And Interest Rate SwapsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/06/2013 13:20 -0500
While the public's attention has been focused recently on revelations involving currency manipulation by all the same banks best known until recently for dispensing Bollinger when they got a Libor end of day print from their criminal cartel precisely where they wanted it (for an amusing take, read Matt Taibbi's latest), the truth is that manipulation of FX and Libor is old news. Time to move on to bigger and better markets, such as physical commodities, in this case crude, as well as Interest Rate swaps. And, best of all, the us of our favorite manipulation term of all: "banging the close."
There was a time when the only complaint the SEC's 4000 employees had was that some porn sites charge just too much - after all, the SEC's "enforcement" budget is limited, while the worldwide supply of pornography is virtually endless. It's time to add one more grievance to the list of all those overworked regulators who have yet to put someone, anyone, from the big banks in jail as a consequence for nearly destroying the western way of life, or do more than merely wrist slap Steve Cohen with a penalty that costs more than three or four Picasso paintings: lunch breaks.
The Steve Cohen Era Is Over: S.A.C. To Plead Guilty To Securities Fraud, Stop Managing Outside MoneySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/29/2013 15:41 -0500
Nearly three years ago, before anyone had heard of expert networks, before the SEC had brought any major enforcement action against any hedge fund and long before anyone had to gall to accuse SAC of insider trading, Zero Hedge started a series of posts commencing with "Is The SEC's Insider Trading Case Implicating FrontPoint A Sting Operation Aimed At S.A.C. Capital?" exposing the fraudulent transactions of Steve Cohne's hedge fund despite fears of violent legal reprisals. We are delighted to inform our readers that this particular chapter is now over: the WSJ has just reported that SAC will plead guilty to securities fraud, pay a final $1.2 billion penalty (still a tiny sum compared to all the ill-gotten gains by Steve Cohen over the years), and most importantly, end the fund's management of outside money.
U.S. prosecutors and SAC Capital agree in principle on insider-trading penalty exceeding $1billion. http://t.co/hNaBnT26jX
— WSJ Breaking News (@WSJbreakingnews) October 17, 2013
Obama Meets Security Advisors Over "Most Specific, Credible Terrorist Threat In Years"; US Forces On AlertSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/03/2013 21:34 -0500
The time has come to remind Americans that "you can't have 100-percent security and also have 100-percent privacy and zero inconvenience" or, in other words, why only the government can provide a veil of impenetrable protection, and why such things as personal privacy in an age of murderous Al Qaeda (the non-US funded variety, supposedly) terrorists lurking behind corners, are not only unnecessary but unpatriotic. According to CBS, the "terrorist threat prompting the U.S. government to close nearly two dozen embassies and consulates Sunday is the most specific, credible threat information in years" (even more credible than the Boston marathon bombers?) Specific but lacking the actual date, or timing, of an alleged "terrorist attack." Information which, however, can not be shared with the general public for obvious reasons - just trust the government and ignore that spy drone peeking into your window to see if you are dutifully spending your daily quota of "confident consumer" fiat on Amazon.com.
With euphoria returning to equity markets, it's worth remembering that stocks are unlikely to make you really rich. We have some ideas what might though.
The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, is about to do what so many iterations of prosecutors have dreamed of doing in the past three decades: announce criminal charges against SAC Capital, if not against its chief Steve Cohen (at least not yet). Watch him do it live at the following webcast.
Goodbye sweet blue-eyed prince. It's been bittersweet. Just out from Bloomberg and Reuters:
- SAC CAPITAL ADVISORS INDICTED BY FEDERAL GRAND JURY IN NEW YORK
- COHEN'S HEDGE FUND, SUBORDINATES SUBJECT OF CRIMINAL INQUIRY
- U.S. SEEKS TO FORCE SAC TO FORFEIT ILLEGAL PROFITS STEMMING FROM FRAUD
- U.S. SAYS THAT FROM ROUGHLY 1999 TO 2010, SAC OBTAINED AND TRADED ON INSIDE INFORMATION TO BOOST RETURNS, FEES
Perhaps now is a good time to retreat to the hockey rink behind 9 feet of electrified fence, before the TV newsvans arrive at 72 Cummings Point road. As for what happens to the 5-10% of daily NYSE volume traditionally associated with the SAC, we will find out soon enough.
It would appear the camel's back of the career of Steve Cohen and his firm SAC Capital has received its last straw. As the WSJ reports, Federal prosecutors plan to bring criminal charges against the firm as early as this week. This spells trouble for SAC which, while still reeling from the SEC's attempt to effectively shut it down, will now have to fight a two front war; defending its key executives against criminal charges as well, including the risk of jail time for what is most likely going to be a securities fraud charge. While a disgraced Steve Cohen may, in theory, run his or whatever employees' he has left, money as a "family office", it would take a very strong wi-fi signal to do that from even a minimum security prison should he finally suffer Martha Stewart's fate.
And in the category of most made up charges by the SEC against a hedge fund billionaire we have:
SEC SUES STEVE COHEN FOR FAILING TO PREVENT INSIDER TRADING
SEC SUES SAC’S STEVEN COHEN WITH FAILING TO SUPERVISE MANAGERS
SEC CHARGES STEVEN COHEN WITH FAILING TO SUPERVISE PORTFOLIO
SEC SEEKS TO BAR COHEN FROM OVERSEEING INVESTOR FUNDS
ALLEGES COHEN RECEIVED INFO THAT SHOULD HAVE LED TO PROBE
All of the above was known to our readers since December 2010. Thus Steve Cohen's forced conversion to a "friends and family" office is now complete. And since hedge funds make money not on portfolio upside (and certainly not downside) but on the management fees, the chapter of Blue Eyes' information arbitrage glory days are now over.
If there is a better way to admit guilt, and several decades of ill-gotten billions courtesy of now legendary "information arbitrage", coupled with some heavy expert network hot tips and one year contract retentions of every biotech expert from here to Calcutta, than pleading the Fifth, we have yet to hear it. We are confident, however, that SAC FoF investor Anthony Scaramucci will provide some truly memorable examples. Or if not that, then at least a few guest passes to his "fun" and brilliant "Hooters for Hedgies" concept.
Nearly three years ago, following the publishing of "Is The SEC's Insider Trading Case Implicating FrontPoint A Sting Operation Aimed At S.A.C. Capital?" which exposed the key aspects of SAC's insider trading strategy, and which linked SAC, and the hedge fund world in general, to expert networks three weeks before virtually anyone outside of the 2 and 20 (or 3 and 50 as the case may be) world had heard of them and before they became a household euphemism for insider trading, we expected the full rabid fury of the world's best paid legal team to fall upon us. It didn't, which meant only one thing: we were correct, or they had bigger fish (to avoid harpooning) on their mind. Turns out it was both.
It appears that the noose is tightening and the wobbly-chair that Steve Cohen is standing on is getting wobblier... As Bloomberg reports, after five years under investigation for insider trading Steve Cohen is considering a 'deal' with prosecutors that would shut his $15 billion fund to outside investors and (as we noted this morning) shift a family (friends and employees) office.
- *COHEN SAID TO HAVE DISCUSSED DEFERRED PROSECUTION AGREEMENT
- *COHEN SAID TO CONSIDER RETURNING OUTSIDE INVESTORS' MONEY
- *COHEN SAID TO CONSIDER CONTINUING AS A FAMILY OFFICE
The deferred prosecution is intriguing as "when a company enters into a DPA with the government, or an NPA for that matter, it almost always must acknowledge wrongdoing..." and the clock is ticking with the statute of limitations up at the end of July.
The longest ongoing government "sting" operation against a hedge fund, possibly in all of history, that which absolutely everyone has known about for years now i.e., against Steve Cohen's SAC and its Bernie Madoff-esque series of profitable years (at least until recently that is, when "expert networks" no longer accept any calls originating out of Connecticut or New York), may be coming to an end, following what the WSJ reports may be an imminent filing of criminal charges against the hedge fund. "U.S. prosecutors are considering possible criminal charges against SAC Capital Advisors LP as a result of the government's insider-trading investigation of the hedge-fund firm, according to people familiar with the matter. It isn't clear what led prosecutors to warn the Stamford, Conn., hedge-fund operator that it could be charged criminally. But the move is the strongest sign yet that prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are trying to ratchet up the pressure as a five-year deadline looms to file the most serious charges related to trading that allegedly involved Mr. Cohen."
Hopefully the $155 million purchase of Picasso's "Le Reve" by Steve Cohen coupled with his splurge on a $60 million East Hamptons pad comes with a 30 full day money back guarantee, because very soon he may have more practical and immediate uses for the money. If the SAC head was hoping that the recent $602 million settlement his firm had reached with the SEC was enough to put all his troubles behind him, he may want to think twice. First, yesterday, New York District Judge Victor Marrero pulled a "Judge Rakoff", when he balked at the SEC’s use of the “neither admit nor deny” provision (the same argument used by Rakoff when he rejected an SEC settlement with Citigroup in 2011). Marrero also asked what would happen if Martoma, who has pleaded not guilty to related criminal charges, is convicted. “How would it look if in the settlement before it, the parties were allowed to say ‘We did nothing wrong?’” Marrero asked. “The ground is shaking, let’s admit that,” said Marrero. “This court is in the same position that Judge Rakoff was some months ago." But in the end we are sure that Marrero, just like Rakoff, will fold to pressure, and money. However, where things got interesting is that moments ago the Feds arrested long-time SAC suspect and PM Michael Steinberg, giving him a perp walk out of his Park Avenue apartment. This was the highest profile arrest so of any SAC employee and means that while the SEC may be trying to close the book on Cohen, the Feds are only now getting started.