Hedge Fund To Pay More Than $600 Million In Insider Trading Settlement

The Securities and Exchange Commission said it has obtained the largest settlement ever in an insider trading case. Two affiliates of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors have agreed to pay $614 million to settle charges of participating in insider trading schemes. The SEC alleged that a portfolio manager at one of the firms obtained confidential details about an Alzheimer's drug trial from a doctor who was presenting final results to the public.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission says it's the largest settlement in history for insider trading. Two affiliates of the major hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors will pay a fine of more than $600 million. But they're not admitting to any wrongdoing. Here's NPR's Dan Bobkoff.

DAN BOBKOFF, BYLINE: The big-ticket settlement is with CR Intrinsic, an affiliate of SAC Capital, that the Securities and Exchange Commission says obtained illegal information about Alzheimer's drug trials at pharmaceutical companies Wyeth and Elan Corporation. CR Intrinsic will admit no guilt and pay more than $600 million, including $250 million in penalties.

In a conference call, George Canellos of the SEC says this is about investor confidence and fairness.

GEORGE CANELLOS: We can't tolerate a market rigged for the benefits of insiders and their cronies, for the benefit of those who would corrupt company officials to divulge confidential information.

BOBKOFF: Another affiliate settled separate charges today that it illegally traded shares of technology companies Dell and NVIDIA. SAC Capital Advisors has been in the SEC's crosshairs for months. Last year, it charged Matthew Martoma, an SAC portfolio manager, with obtaining illegal information about the drug trials. SAC allegedly used the information to profit and avoid losses totaling $276 million.

Today's settlements are separate from the Martoma case and the SEC says its litigations and investigations are continuing.

JOHN COFFEE: This is a case that still hasn't seen the last domino fall.

BOBKOFF: John Coffee teaches securities law at Columbia Law School. He says the SEC could still bring an action against SAC founder Steven Cohen or other SAC officials if they get assistance from Martoma.

COFFEE: The government has been slowly circling around Mr. Cohen for some time.

BOBKOFF: Steven Cohen hasn't been charged, but Canellos of the SEC made it clear that could change. A spokesman for SAC Capital said in a statement that, quote, this settlement is a substantial step toward resolving all outstanding regulatory matters and allows the firm to move forward with confidence. Dan Bobkoff, NPR News, New York.

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