SAC Capital Advisors' record $616 million settlement of insider-trading charges was actually two settlements. And the much smaller of the pair, unlike the larger, has won the necessary approval of a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Harold Baer late Friday signed off on a $14 million pact between SAC's Sigma Capital Management unit and the Securities and Exchange Commission. That deal covers alleged insider-trading in Dell Inc. and Nvidia Corp. shares by two of the firm's portfolio managers, one of whom, Michael Steinberg, was arrested last week.
Steinberg and the other portfolio manager, Gabriel Plotkin, allegedly traded on confidential information provided to them by former Sigma Capital analyst Jon Horvath. Horvath has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors. Steinberg has pleaded not guilty. Plotkin has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Baer's routine approval of the $14 million deal stands in stark contrast to the refusal of his colleague on the federal bench in Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero. Marrero said last week he needed more time to consider SAC's $602 million settlement, stemming from the allegedly illicit trading of former portfolio manager Mathew Martoma. Marrero said he was concerned about an upcoming appeals court decision dealing with the SEC's practice of striking settlements without admissions or denials of wrongdoing, as is the case in both of the SAC deals.
Martoma has pleaded not guilty.