Goldman Sachs Banker Arrested Over Insider Trading Allegations
A Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investment banker was arrested by federal prosecutors over allegations of insider trading, according to court records unsealed on Friday.
Bryan Cohen, a Goldman Sachs vice president, leaked nonpublic information for almost three years in exchange for cash as part of an international insider trading scheme that led to $2.6 million in illicit gains, according to a separate complaint from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that didn’t identify his employer.
Some information was tied to pending deals involving Syngenta AG and Buffalo Wild Wings Inc., the documents show.
A Goldman spokeswoman confirmed Cohen was an investment banker who worked in the consumer retail division. The bank was unaware of the allegations until Cohen was arrested on Friday. He has since been placed on leave.
“We are cooperating with the authorities on the situation regarding Mr. Cohen,” Nicole Sharp, a representative for the firm, said in an emailed statement. “Protecting client confidential information is our highest internal priority and we condemn this alleged behavior.”
An attorney for Cohen didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The accusations are the third insider-trading allegations lodged by U.S. prosecutors against a Goldman banker in the past 18 months.
Cohen, 33, shared the information with a trader who hasn’t been identified, and who subsequently passed it on to George Nikas, who realized the gains, according to the SEC complaint. Nikas, a 54-year-old New York restaurateur who owns the chain GRK Fresh, was also charged by prosecutors. Cohen expected and received an unspecified amount of cash in exchange for the tips he provided, the filings show.
Cohen has been with Goldman for almost 10 years, starting in the London office before being transferred to New York in 2017. The insider tips were shared between April 2015 and November 2017, according to the SEC complaint.
The complaint offers a detailed view of how the alleged scheme unfolded. For example, shortly after Cohen moved to New York, Buffalo Wild Wings contacted Goldman to help as the Minneapolis-based casual dining chain was approached by Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. Cohen was made aware of the potential acquisition the same day, Oct. 17, 2017. Nikas purchased 22,000 Buffalo Wild Wings shares between Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 for $2.5 million, selling 9,000 of them by Nov. 1 for an initial profit of $79,074.
After the market close on Nov. 13, news broke of a potential Buffalo Wild Wings acquisition. The next day, the restaurant chain’s stock price rose 24%, and Nikas sold his remaining shares for a profit of $343,298, according to the complaint.
Ex-Goldman Banker Leissner Barred by SEC Over 1MDB Fund Scandal and Gets ZERO JAIL TIME
Published; Dec. 16, 2019
Ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker Tim Leissner was permanently barred from the securities industry by U.S. regulators for paying bribes as part of scandal that allegedly led to billions of dollars being pilfered from the Malaysian state fund 1MDB.
Leissner agreed to $43.7 million in disgorgement as part of his settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the agency said in a Monday statement. The disgorgement was “deemed satisfied” by a criminal forfeiture Leissner entered into last year with the Justice Department, indicating he won’t be paying any more money to the SEC.
Beginning in 2012, Leissner used a third-party to bribe government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi to win business for Goldman, including underwriting $6.5 billion in bond offerings, according to the SEC. Leissner personally received more than $43 million in illicit payments for his role in the scheme, the regulator said.
“Leissner abused his leadership role at Goldman Sachs by engaging in a massive bribery scheme targeting the highest levels of two foreign governments in order to bring in lucrative business to the firm and enrich himself,” said Charles Cain, head of the SEC enforcement unit that investigates violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
1MDB has become a huge international embezzlement scandal, with massive amounts of cash being diverted to finance projects across the globe and enrich corrupt officials, according to Malaysian and U.S. authorities. Money from the fund was allegedly spent on a super yacht, high-end real estate and the Hollywood movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Goldman is under investigation over its ties to the scheme.
In March, the Federal Reserve banned Leissner from the banking industry over similar claims. He pleaded guilty to U.S. criminal charges last year that he conspired to launder money, while admitting to bribing officials in Malaysia.