SAC to pay $614 million in insider trading settlement

Two affiliates of SAC Capital Advisors, charged with trading on confidential details about a drug trial, agree to settle insider trading case. Regulators call it the largest insider trading settlement ever.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/File
The seal of the Securities and Exchange Commission hangs on the wall at SEC headquarters in Washington. Two affiliates of SAC Capital Advisors LP agreed to pay more than $600 million to settle insider trading charges, the SEC said March 15, 2013, calling it the largest settlement of its kind.

Two affiliates of SAC Capital Advisors, the hedge fund run by billionaire Steven Cohen, will pay more than $614 million in what federal regulators are calling the largest insider trading settlement ever.

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged CR Intrinsic Investors with insider trading in 2012, alleging that portfolio manager Mathew Martoma illegally obtained confidential details about an Alzheimer's drug trial from a doctor before the final results went public and traded on that information. The SEC said Friday that the fund agreed to pay more than $600 million to settle the charges. The parties neither admit nor deny the charges.

The SEC's complaint alleged that Sidney Gillman, a doctor who moonlighted as a medical consultant, tipped drug safety data and negative drug trial results to Martoma two weeks before developers Elan Corp. and Wyeth made those results public in 2008. Martoma and CR Intrinsic then caused several hedge funds to sell more than $960 million in Elan and Wyeth securities in a little more than a week.

Regulators added SAC Capital Advisors and four hedge funds managed by CR Intrinsic and SAC Capital as defendants, saying they each received ill-gotten gains from the scheme.

"The historic monetary sanctions against CR Intrinsic and its affiliates are a sharp warning that the SEC will hold hedge fund advisory firms and their funds accountable when employees break the law to benefit the firm," George S. Canellos, acting director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement, said in a statement.

The settlement is subject to the approval of a U.S. District Court judge. It does not settle charges against Martoma, whose case is still in litigation.

Also Friday, the SEC settled charges against Sigma Capital Management for $14 million. Sigma allegedly profited illegally from early information about the earnings of two technology companies.

The cases stem from a long-running probe of insider trading by hedge funds, many of which are affiliated with SAC Capital. The government has targeted multiple employees of the Stamford, Conn.-based hedge fund, though no charges have been brought against Cohen.

SAC said in a statement Friday that it is happy to put these matters with the SEC behind it.

"This settlement is a substantial step toward resolving all outstanding regulatory matters and allows the firm to move forward with confidence," the company said. "We are committed to continuing to maintain a first-rate compliance effort woven into the fabric of the firm."

Daniel Wagner in Washington contributed to this report.

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