Research Firm. Pres. Pleads Guilty To Passing Tips To Hedge Funders

Jun 27 2012 | 12:00pm ET

The president of a research firm has pleaded guilty to charges that he participated in the expert-network insider-trading scheme.

Tai Nguyen, who heads Insight Research, entered his plea in New York federal court yesterday, the same day he surrendered to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy to commit fraud charge, although U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald indicated he'd likely receive less.

Nguyen's name first emerged in connection with the case against former SAC Capital Advisors trader Donald Longueuil, who pleaded guilty as part of the case last year.

Nguyen told the court that he passed "material non-public information" about medical and veterinary device-maker Abaxis to hedge fund manager Samir Barai and former SAC analyst Noah Freeman. The scheme ran from 2006 through 2009.

“I agreed with others to violate and defraud the U.S. and took material nonpublic information from an insider and provide it to Sam Barai and Noah Freeman,” Nguyen said. “I know my conduct was illegal.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission has also sued Nguyen, saying that he earned $147,000 himself trading on the Abaxis tips, which he allegedly received from his brother. Nguyen's clients allegedly made $7.2 million in illicit profits.

Nguyen is the 64th person to plead guilty or be convicted of insider trading during the government's crackdown. Buchwald allowed him to remain free, pending his Nov. 8 sentencing, on $500,000 bond.

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