The criminal case against SAC Capital Advisors will wrap up this afternoon with yet another monster payoff. U.S. Attorney General Preet Bharara announced SAC Capital will plead guilty on insider trading, pay a $900 million fine and forfeit over $200 million. Including more than $616 million forfeited earlier this year, SAC's total settlement amount is roughly $1.8 billion.
As my Breakout co-host Matt Nesto and I discuss in the attached video, SAC Capital and founder Steve Cohen still have plenty of legal problems on the horizon. Most notable among the outstanding existing cases is a civil suit brought by the SEC accusing Cohen of a failure to supervise his employees.
Mathew Martoma and Micheal Steinberg are charged in two separate cases, accused of using material non-public information to help SAC make profits or avoid losses totaling nearly $280 million. There's a chance one or both fund managers involved in that case "flip" on Cohen as their trials near.
Investigators and ambitious attorneys general have been pursuing Cohen for years. Despite racking up impressive payouts, the enforcement agencies have yet to generate more than somewhat murky charges of wrongdoing. It seems a longshot that Cohen would be imprisoned on these charges, which means we should expect another showy settlement press conference sometime soon.
The fact that Cohen can keep peeling off billion dollar kickbacks to the government nicely demonstrates why a hedge fund manager might be motivated to cheat: it pays really well. When "settlements" don't settle anything, the whole process becomes a farce. Wall Street throwing money at prosecutors is like a serial killer throwing bodies at flesh-eating zombies. It doesn't stop the killers and it only encourages the zombies.
Wall Street is booking huge profits and prosecutors are getting fed the attention they want, and fines they need. Main Street is getting nothing but bad theater and silly press conferences.
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