The Securities and Exchange Commission settled for a $260,000 fine against a New York City banker charged with international insider trading.
Bryan Cohen, a former executive at a global investment bank, reportedly Goldman Sachs, obtained nonpublic information about potential corporate acquisitions of Syngenta AG and Buffalo Wild Wings, both of whom had engaged his then-employer to provide advisory services.
Cohen misappropriated highly confidential information by tipping a trader based in Switzerland, who further tipped defendant George Nikas, the SEC said.
Both the Switzerland-based trader and Nikas traded in the securities of Syngenta, and Nikas also traded in the securities of Buffalo Wild Wings, prior to market-moving public disclosures about the acquisitions of these companies, and as a result generated millions of dollars of illegal profits.
In one example transaction, Cohen learned of a potential transaction involving Buffalo Wild Wings on 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, the government said in court filings.
The scheme took place from April 2015 to November 2017, the SEC said, and netted Nikas about $2.6 million in illicit profits. Cohen received a portion of the profits in exchange for his information, the SEC said.
A Greek citizen living in New York City, Nikas was found guilty his own criminal charges and is slated for sentencing June 22. He owns the restaurant chain GRK Fresh, with restaurants in Manhattan.
In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filed criminal charges against Cohen, who agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiring to commit securities fraud, and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 28.
The final judgment also orders disgorgement of Cohen’s ill-gotten gains, to be offset by the Order of Forfeiture to be imposed in the parallel criminal case. Cohen also consented to the issuance of an SEC order barring him from the securities industry and from participating in any offering of a penny stock.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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