SAC Analyst Pleads Guilty, Could Testify In Level Global Founder's Trial

Sep 28 2012 | 2:53pm ET

A former analyst at SAC Capital Advisors has pleaded guilty to insider-trading charges, just a month before he was set to go to trial with two alleged co-conspirators.

Jon Horvath became the sixth person to plead guilty in the case, in which U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has said a "criminal club" shared confidential tips about technology companies and illegally traded their stocks. The scheme allegedly produced some $62 million in illicit profits.

Horvath's plea comes after his former boss at SAC, Michael Steinberg, was identified in the press as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. Horvath, who covered technology stocks at SAC's Sigma Capital Management unit, has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors; it is unclear if authorities are pursuing criminal charges against Steinberg.

At his plea hearing today in Manhattan federal court, Horvath said he received confidential tips about Dell Inc. and Nvidia Corp. and "provided the information to the portfolio manager I worked for and we executed trades in stock based on that information." Horvath did not name Steinberg in his allocution and did not specify whether Steinberg knew the information he provided was confidential.

As part of his cooperation agreement, Horvath has agreed to testify against his former co-defendants, Level Global Investors co-founder Anthony Chiasson and former Diamondback Capital Management trader Todd Newman. It is unclear if prosecutors plan to call him.

Horvath faces up to 20 years in prison on the conspiracy and securities fraud charges. The Swedish citizen could also be deported after his release from prison, if he is sent to jail. He is likely to face far less time in prison than the maximum due to his cooperation.

Neither SAC nor Steinberg have been accused of any wrongdoing.

"Until today, Mr. Horvath maintained he had not violated the law and we gave him the benefit of the presumption of innocence," SAC said. "We are disappointed and angered to learn Mr. Horvath admittedly violated the law and SAC's policies forbidding insider trading. We expect our employees to have integrity, play by the rules and follow the letter and spirit of the law."

"I was part of a group of analysts who agreed to obtain and share information about public companies," Horvath said today. "Some of the information I received was material, non-public information that I knew came from public company employees and I knew they were not permitted to share with outsiders."

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