Portfolio manager Michael Steinberg was arrested this morning at his Park Avenue home by federal authorities probing SAC Capital Advisors, one of the nation's most prominent hedge funds, an FBI spokesman said.
Steinberg faces charges of insider trading related to shares of Dell Inc. and Nvidia Corp.
"As alleged, Michael Steinberg was another Wall Street insider who fed off a corrupt grapevine of proprietary and confidential information cultivated by other professionals who made their own rules to make money," said US Attorney Preet Bharara.
According to court papers, "Steinberg executed and caused to be executed securities transactions in certain of the technology companies in whole or in part on the inside information" provided to him by an analyst, Jonathan Horvath, who has already pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities.
In August of 2008 court records say Horvath sent Steinberg an email indicating Dell would include "a gross margins miss" in its upcoming earnings report. "Please keep to yourself as obviously not well known," the email said. Steinberg replied: "Yes normally we would never divulge data like this so please be discreet."
"Mr. Steinberg was at the center of an elite criminal club, where cheating and corruption were rewarded," said FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos.
Steinberg, through his attorney, denied the charges. He pleaded not guilty today and separate civil charges have been filed.
"Michael Steinberg did absolutely nothing wrong," said defense attorney Barry Berke of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP. "At all times, his trading decisions were based on detailed analysis as well as information that he understood had been properly obtained through the types of channels that institutional investors rely upon on a daily basis."
More than 70 people have been arrested so far in the FBI's campaign to root out insider trading at hedge funds and expert networking firms. SAC Capital Advisors, based in Stamford, Conn., and its founder Steven Cohen, have been subjects in that investigation.
SAC Capital Advisors recently agreed to pay a record $616 million civil penalty to settle two insider-trading lawsuits brought by the SEC. A judge has yet to sign off on that agreement. Cohen hasn't been accused of wrongdoing.