'Burner' phones and Ariad secrets: Goldman Sachs banker pleads guilty for his role in global insider trading ring
A former Goldman Sachs banker has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit securities fraud as another member of the global biotech insider trader ring stands trial in Manhattan.
Bryan Cohen admitted to stealing material, non-public information from the investment bank about corporate acquisitions, some of them related to companies listed on US exchanges. But unlike Telemaque Lavidas, who allegedly fed information about Ariad to New York businessman George Nikas, Cohen turned his intel over to “a securities trader based in Switzerland,” providing updates about how the deals were progressing over time.
The insider information Cohen provided allowed that trader to “place timely, profitable trades” and reap “substantial profits,” according to the superseding indictment and court statements quoted by the US Attorney in the Southern District of New York.
“In exchange for providing MNPI he stole from Investment Bank A, COHEN received benefits, including cash, from the securities trader,” according to a release.
That Swiss trader Cohen was in contact with could be Marc Demane-Debih, whom Bloomberg reported was arrested last year in Serbia, extradited to the US, pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.
Demane-Debih claimed that Nikas told him about inside information on Ariad obtained from Lavidas and his father, then a board member of the biotech. In turn, prosecutors said, Demane-Debih also passed information to Nikas alongside two other investment bankers and one other securities trader.
The loosely connected group “took numerous steps to conceal their unlawful scheme, including the use of multiple unregistered ‘burner’ cellphones to communicate with each other,” the indictment for Lavidas charged. In one instance, Cohen allegedly communicated with other members of the scheme on his burner phone from a restaurant owned and operated by Nikas.
Cohen — who’s worked in both London and New York offices of Goldman Sachs and has been on leave since his arrest in October — has been fired, Bloomberg added.
The maximum sentence to the one count he pleaded guilty to is five years. His trial is scheduled for February 4.