April 6, 2020

SEC enters judgment against participant in international insider trading ring

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a final consent judgment on March 25, 2020, against Bryan Cohen, an investment banker with a global investment bank.  In an October 2019 complaint, the US Securities and Exchange Commission charged Cohen with selling material non-public information (MNPI) obtained in the course of Cohen’s employment to a trader in Switzerland.  The trader purchased securities based on the tips, which concerned potential corporate acquisitions.  According to the complaint, the trader in turn shared the information with George Nikas, a Greek citizen who is wanted for insider trading, who compensated Cohen’s friend for the information. 

The consent judgment permanently enjoins Cohen from violating Section 10(b) and 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as well as Rule 10b-5 and 14e-3 thereunder, and requires him to pay disgorgement of $260,000.  Under the terms of the judgment, this monetary relief will be offset by the Order of Forfeiture entered in a parallel criminal case filed against him in October 2019.  In that case, Cohen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud.  He is currently awaiting sentencing.

In separate criminal and civil actions, Nikas has been accused of gaining $2.6 million in illegal profits from trades involving a global network of insiders at investment banks, and relatives of corporate insiders, who obtained MNPI and sold it to securities traders.  In January 2020, a jury in the SDNY also found  Nikas’ friend and co-defendant Telemaque Lavidas guilty of insider trading, securities fraud and wire fraud.  Lavidas is the son of an executive of a pharmaceutical company; according to the evidence, he conspired with Nikas to steal confidential information from Lavidas’ father and use it for their own profit. 

SEC ComplaintSEC Press Release (2019)| SEC Final Judgment SEC Press Release