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Archive for October, 2011

SEC Files Insider Trading Charges Against Rajat Gupta, Brings New Charges Against Raj Rajaratnam

On October 26, 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged former McKinsey & Co. global head Rajat K. Gupta with insider trading for illegally tipping convicted hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam while serving on the boards of Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble (P&G). The SEC also filed new insider trading charges against Rajaratnam after first charging him with insider trading in October 2009.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Gupta illegally tipped Rajaratnam with insider information about the quarterly earnings of both Goldman Sachs and P&G as well as an impending $5 billion investment in Goldman by Berkshire Hathaway at the height of the financial crisis. Rajaratnam, the founder of Galleon Management who was recently convicted of multiple counts of insider trading in other securities stemming from unrelated insider trading schemes, allegedly caused various Galleon funds to trade based on Gupta’s inside information, generating illicit profits or loss avoidance of more than $23 million.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that Gupta provided his friend and business associate Rajaratnam with confidential information learned during board calls and in other communications and meetings relating to his official duties as a director of Goldman and P&G. Rajaratnam used the inside information to trade on behalf of certain Galleon funds, or shared the information with others at his firm who caused other Galleon funds to trade on it ahead of public announcements by the firms. During this period, Gupta had a variety of business dealings with Rajaratnam and stood to benefit from his relationship with him.

Citigroup To Pay $285 Million to Settle SEC Charges For Misleading Investors About CDO Company

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today charged Citigroup Global Markets Inc. (Citigroup), the principal U.S. broker-dealer subsidiary of Citigroup Inc., with misleading investors about a $1 billion collateralized debt obligation (CDO) called Class V Funding III (Class V III). At a time when the U.S. housing market was showing signs of distress, Citigroup structured and marketed Class V III and exercised significant influence over the selection of $500 million of the assets included in the CDO. Citigroup then took a proprietary short position with respect to those $500 million of assets. That short position would provide profits to Citigroup in the event of a downturn in the United States housing market and gave Citigroup economic interests in the Class V III transaction that were adverse to the interests of investors. Citigroup did not disclose to investors the role that it played in the asset selection process or the short position that it took with respect to the assets that it helped select. Without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, Citigroup has consented to settle the Commission’s action.

The SEC today also brought a litigated civil action against Brian Stoker (Stoker) and instituted settled administrative proceedings against Credit Suisse Asset Alternative Capital, LLC (formerly known as Credit Suisse Alternative Capital, Inc.) (CSAC), Credit Suisse Asset Management, LLC (CSAM), and Samir H. Bhatt (Bhatt), based on their conduct in the Class V III transaction. Stoker was the Citigroup employee primarily responsible for structuring the Class V III transaction. CSAM is the successor in interest to CSAC, which was the collateral manager for the Class V III transaction, and Bhatt was the portfolio manager at CSAC primarily responsible for the Class V III transaction. Without admitting or denying the Commission’s findings, CSAM, CSAC, and Bhatt have agreed to settle the Commission’s proceedings.

Citigroup Global Markets and Brian Stoker


 According to the SEC’s complaints, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), in or around October 2006, personnel from Citigroup’s CDO trading and structuring desks had discussions about possibly having the trading desk establish a short position in a specific group of assets by using credit default swaps (CDS) to buy protection on those assets from a CDO that Citigroup would structure and market. Following the institution of discussions with CSAC about having CSAC act as the collateral manager for a proposed CDO transaction, Stoker sent an e-mail to his supervisor in which he stated that he hoped that the transaction would go forward and described the transaction as the Citigroup trading desk head’s “prop trade (don’t tell CSAC). CSAC agreed to terms even though they don’t get to pick the assets.”

As further set forth in the complaints, Citigroup and CSAC agreed to proceed with the Class V III transaction. During the time when the transaction was being structured, CSAC allowed Citigroup to exercise significant influence over the selection of assets included in the Class V III portfolio. The Class V III transaction marketed primarily through a pitch book and an offering circular. Stoker was primarily responsible for these documents. Both the pitch book and the offering circular included disclosures that CSAC, the collateral manager, had selected the collateral for the Class V III portfolio and that Citigroup would act as the initial CDS counterparty. The disclosures, however, did not provide any information about the extent of Citigroup’s interest in the negative performance of the Class V III collateral or that, by the times when the pitch book and the offering circular were prepared, Citigroup already had short positions in $500 million of the collateral. The pitch book and the offering circular were materially misleading because they failed to disclose that Citigroup had played a substantial role in selecting the assets for Class V III, Citigroup had taken a $500 million short position in the Class V III collateral for its own account, and Citigroup’s short position was comprised of names it had been allowed to select, while Citigroup did not short names that it had no role in selecting. Nothing in the disclosures put investors on notice Citigroup had interests that were adverse to the interests of investors.

According to the complaints, the Class V III transaction closed on February 28, 2007. One experienced CDO trader characterized the Class V III portfolio as “dogsh!t” and “possibly the best short EVER!” and an experienced collateral manager commented that “the portfolio is horrible.” On November 7, 2007, a credit rating agency downgraded every tranche of Class V III, and on November 19, 2007, Class V III was declared to be in an Event of Default. The approximately 15 investors in the Class V III transaction lost their entire investments in Class V III. Citigroup received fees of approximately $34 million for structuring and marketing the transaction and realized net profits of at least $160 million from its short position on $500 million of the collateral.

Madoff Clients To Start Receiving Money

Some of the investors swindled by Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff will soon be receiving some money back.

The trustee charged with recovering funds for customers of the jailed financier announced that $312 million will be distributed this week on claims relating to 1,230 accounts.

Trustee Irving Picard has recovered about $8.7 billion from investors who were paid fictitious profits by Madoff above the amount they invested.

That’s about half the roughly $17.3 billion lost by Madoff customers who have filed claims.

The bulk of the recovered funds can’t be paid out yet because they are tied up in litigation and appeals.

Madoff pleaded guilty to fraud charges and is serving a 150-year prison sentence in federal custody in North Carolina.

SEC to Brokerage Firms: You Need to Supervise Subaccounts

The Securities and Exchange Commission is warning broker-dealers it will scrutinize the procedures they use to ensure they don’t run afoul of the new market access rule when dealing in subaccounts used by disreputable day traders.

In a communique made on Sept. 29 entitled “National Exam Risk Alert,” the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations says in many cases, the registered broker-dealer with subaccounts will obtain information only with respect to its customer, the owner of the master account. That means, the broker-dealer won’t know who is using its market participant symbol –or MPID– to trade. That lack of knowledge opens the broker-dealer up legal and reputational risks.

The new market access rule, otherwise known as Rule 15c3-5 requires broker dealers to have sufficient risk management controls and supervisory procedures in place to manage the financial, regulatory and other risks with providing a customer with access to the broker-dealer’s trading systems and technology to execute orders.

In a master or sub-account trading model, a customer opens an account with a registered broker-dealer that permits the customer to have subordinate or subaccounts for different trading activities. In some instances, these subaccounts are further divided.

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