SAC Plea Hearing Today; Pharmas Oppose Deal

Nov 8 2013 | 11:41am ET

When U.S. District Judge Laura Swain Taylor weighs SAC Capital Advisors' plea deal today, some of the hedge funds' alleged victims want to be heard.

SAC is poised to plead guilty today to insider-trading—if, that is, Taylor approves the pact with prosecutors, which will see the hedge fund pay $1.2 billion and close to outside capital. Under the terms of that deal, it's a take-it-or-leave-it offer; if Taylor objects to any of its provisions, SAC will be permitted to withdraw its guilty plea on securities and wire fraud charges.

Some are hoping she simply rejects the agreement outright, including two pharmaceutical companies whose shares SAC traders allegedly dealt in illegally. Elan Corp. and Wyeth LLC asked Taylor to hear their objections at the hearing today; the two companies want Swain to junk the accord "because it allows SAC to plead guilty without admitting that it is guilty of the principal criminal conduct charges in the indictment—insider trading in the securities of Elan Corp. and Wyeth," the companies wrote yesterday.

SAC was not required to admit wrongdoing in those cases because the portfolio manager who made the trades, Mathew Martoma, has pleaded not guilty and is set to stand trial next year.

Elan and Wyeth are not alone in their opposition; U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan, who on Wednesday signed off on the pact, asked people to stop e-mailing him about the matter.

Sullivan said he had received an e-mail Tuesday decrying the settlement as a "sweetheart deal" for SAC. Sullivan, who on Wednesday said that his own opinion was irrelevant and that he expected Taylor to make a more "searching inquiry" than his own, said that such views on the SAC case belong in letters to the editor or op-ed pieces and not in his inbox.

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