A former SAC Capital portfolio manager was released on $5-million (U.S.) bail on Monday after making his first appearance in a New York court on charges of making illegal trades that hedge fund titan Steven A. Cohen personally signed off on.
Mathew Martoma, 38, of Boca Raton, Fla., was charged last week in what U.S. prosecutors called “the most lucrative” insider-trading scheme ever.
Mr. Martoma was accused of helping Mr. Cohen’s firm avoid losses and reap profits totaling $276-million in the summer of 2008 by using insider tips he obtained from a doctor about Elan Corp. and Wyeth LLC. Mr. Martoma worked for CR Intrinsic, a unit of Cohen’s SAC Capital.
Mr. Cohen was not charged with wrongdoing, but prosecutors have said in court papers that the “owner” of the hedge fund signed off on Mr. Martoma’s recommendation to sell the shares of Elan and Wyeth. A spokesman for SAC Capital said last week that “Mr. Cohen and SAC are confident that they have acted appropriately and will continue to co-operate with the government’s inquiry.”
At a 13-minute hearing in U.S. district court in Manhattan on Monday, Mr. Martoma spoke only once, answering “yes, your honour” to a judge’s question. He did not enter a plea.
Magistrate Judge James Cott on Monday agreed to a proposed $5-million bail package for Mr. Martoma, who has been free on similar bail conditions since appearing in a Florida court after his arrest on Nov. 20.
Mr. Martoma’s wife, Rosemary, attended the hearing and agreed to serve as one of three co-signers for Mr. Martoma’s bail.
Charles Stillman, Mr. Martoma’s lawyer, has said he is confident his client will be exonerated. Mr. Stillman told reporters gathered outside the courtroom Monday that “we took care of business today and we’ll be back another day.”
The Martomas walked to the courthouse exit hand in hand.
Mr. Martoma, who changed his first name to Mathew from Ajai, worked for CR Intrinsic in Stamford, Conn., until 2010. He is the fifth person associated with SAC Capital, one of the most influential hedge funds, to be charged with insider trading in either a criminal or civil proceeding.
In a criminal complaint, authorities said Mr. Martoma spoke in July 2008 to the “hedge fund owner” – Mr. Cohen – and recommended selling shares of Elan and Wyeth before a negative announcement on clinical trial results for an Alzheimer’s drug jointly developed by the two companies.
U.S. securities regulators, who have filed civil insider-trading charges against Mr. Martoma, contend he obtained confidential tips from Sidney Gilman, who was chair of a committee to monitor patient safety during the Alzheimer’s drug’s clinical trial.
Mr. Gilman, an 80-year-old neurology professor at the University of Michigan, is now co-operating with prosecutors after agreeing to pay a $186,781 disgorgement. A lawyer for Mr. Gilman declined comment last week.
The Securities and Exchange Commission complaint said Mr. Gilman worked as a consultant for a so-called expert network. Hedge funds use such networks to gain insight into various industries.
According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Gilman scheduled meetings and phone calls with Mr. Martoma that allowed him to pass on new information quickly about the drug trial.
The judge set a Dec. 26 hearing for Mr. Martoma to return to court, but Mr. Stillman said he expected it to be pushed back to a later date.
Follow us on Twitter: