Primary Global Analyst Pleads Guilty In Insider-Trading Case

Jan 12 2011 | 2:04pm ET

Federal prosecutors have secured their second guilty plea in the Justice Department’s massive insider-trading investigation. But Winifred Jiau, the woman arrested late last month in the case, won’t be their third.

Bob Nguyen, a former analyst at expert-network firm Primary Global Research, admitted that he and others at Primary Global sought out experts among public company employees who would offer nonpublic information about those companies. All eight of the people currently charged in the case were either Primary Global employees or expert consultants.

Nguyen is cooperating with the probe; he is the cooperating witness identified as “CW-4” in court documents from the earlier case against four Primary Global consultants. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison; but undoubtedly hopes his cooperation will lead to a lesser tariff.

Nguyen told a federal judge in Manhattan that he arranged meetings and phone calls between experts and Primary Global clients that allowed the latter to get confidential information. He is also the first person accused in the case to indicate that Primary Global sought out experts who would be free with their non-public information.

“One of the goals of the firm was to recruit current employees of public companies as experts who would provide material, non-public information about their company,” including information about “revenues, suppliers and customers,” Nguyen said at his plea hearing yesterday.

One of those experts was Dell global supply manager Daniel Devore, who pleaded guilty last month and is also cooperating with the investigation.

Nguyen was freed after the hearing and is free to travel in the continental U.S.

Nguyen is the eighth person charged in the case; the seventh, Winifred Jiau, will not be following his guilty plea with one of her own. Jiau, a former consultant for Primary Global, will plead not guilty to allegations that she passed confidential information on to three hedge funds, her lawyer said.

“I think she intends to plead not guilty,” Mark Goldrosen said. He made the comment after a hearing in San Francisco dealing with Jiau’s transfer to New York.

Jiau’s plans were previously unclear; earlier this month, she told Reuters that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had approached her about becoming a cooperating witness, and that she had not decided whether to turn state’s evidence.

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