Ex-OppenheimerFunds worker charged in $8M inside trade case

A former OppenheimerFunds analyst was freed on $1.5 million bail after he was arrested on insider trading charges alleging he used company secrets to collect over $8 million in illegal profits

September 23, 2021, 7:13 PM

NEW YORK -- A former OppenheimerFunds analyst was freed Thursday on $1.5 million bail after he was arrested on insider trading charges alleging he used secrets at the firm to collect over $8 million in illegal profits.

Sergei Polevikov, 48, of Port Washington, New York, was arrested late Wednesday on securities, wire, and investment company fraud charges.

His lawyer, Brooke Cucinella, said her client was “surprised by the charges, and intends to defend against them vigorously.”

She added: “The government has it wrong.”

At an initial appearance in Manhattan federal court, Polevikov learned that his bail requires him to post $1.5 million in cash or property, though he was freed immediately. His spending will be limited to $10,000 monthly and $500,000 was allowed for legal fees.

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said Polevikov misappropriated secrets about trades his employer, an investment adviser, planned to make on behalf of its investment company clients so that he could make personal trades ahead of large institutional trades, reaping over $8.5 million in gains.

She said in a release that he tried to conceal his scheme from his employer by lying about his trading activities from 2014 through October 2019.

He had worked at the company since 2004 and from 2014 until 2019 held the title of associate vice president senior quantitative analyst, according to a criminal complaint.

The profits secured by Polevikov capitalized on small movements up or down in the value of securities that were influenced briefly by large trades carried out by his company, the complaint said.

Messages seeking comment from Invesco Limited, which acquired OppenheimerFunds, were not immediately returned.

The Securities and Exchange Commission also brought civil claims against Polevikov in Manhattan, saying he carried out a multi-year “front-running scheme by trading securities in his wife's account.”

It said in court papers that Polevikov worked at the firm until May 2019, using his strategy on over 3,000 occasions to use confidential information to execute same-day trades in the same securities his company was trading in on behalf of clients.

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