Sangamo researcher charged with insider trading in latest round of SEC accusations leveled at a biotech exec

Back in early 2014, investors in Sangamo reaped some quick gains when Biogen announced that it had just struck a deal with the gene editing company. 

Investors thrilled to the news that Biogen was paying Sangamo $SGMO $20 million upfront with $300 million in biobucks on the table to hunt for a cure to sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia, driving the stock up 38%.

One of those investors who benefited was a day trader named Steven Fishoff, who had tipped off a group of four other traders about what was coming. Together, they allegedly bagged $1.5 million in a quick score.

According to an SEC statement out Thursday evening, Fishoff got his tip from Deshan Govender, who in turn had been tipped off by close friend and associate Winson Tang, then a vice president of clinical research for Sangamo.

Today, Fishoff, Tang and Govender were all charged with insider trading on the deal, the latest in a string of insider charges leveled against biotech execs and their associates in recent years. The feds want them to disgorge any of the money they got out of the scheme.

Fishoff and four members of his group — Paul Petrello, Ronald Chernin, Steven Costantin and Joseph Spera — have already faced a charge of illegal insider trading ahead of secondary public stock offerings. According to the SEC: “All five defendants have pled guilty to the parallel criminal charges and Petrello, Chernin, Costantin, and Spera have agreed to partial settlements with the SEC for conduct including their trading on the Sangamo-Biogen license agreement, with potential monetary sanctions to be determined at a later date. The SEC’s previous action against Fishoff for alleged insider trading ahead of the secondary stock offerings is continuing.”

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