March 1, 2024

DealBook: Guilty Verdict Reached in Another Insider Trading Case

James FleishmanNorbert Von Der Groeben/ReutersJames Fleishman

8:22 p.m. | Updated

A former salesman at a Silicon Valley research firm was found guilty of conspiracy and wire fraud on Tuesday, the latest person to be convicted in the government’s sweeping investigation into insider trading at hedge funds.

After a two-week trial and just several hours of deliberations, a jury convicted James Fleishman, who worked at Primary Global Research in Mountain View, Calif., of orchestrating the secret exchange of information between hedge fund traders and employees at companies that included Advanced Micro Devices.

“Once again, a jury of 12 men and women has recognized insider trading for the crime that it is,” said Preet S. Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan whose office tried the case.

The case spotlighted so-called expert-network firms, once a fast-growing cottage industry on Wall Street. For a handsome fee, these firms connected hedge funds with paid consultants, or experts, who provided insights into companies and industries. Prosecutors exposed a problematic piece of their business model: Some of the consultants were executives of publicly traded companies, and they leaked secret information about their employers to the hedge funds.

Primary Global, which had prominent clients including the hedge fund SAC Capital, is the expert-network firm that has been the central focus of the government’s investigation. It has since closed its offices, and the government has charged at least seven people connected to the firm with insider trading crimes. A Primary Global spokesman declined to comment.

The government accused Mr. Fleishman, 42, of Santa Clara, Calif., of arranging meetings and telephone calls during which illegal tips were being swapped about Apple and other technology stocks. Two assistant United States attorneys, Antonia Apps and David Leibowitz, tried the case for the government.

Ethan Balogh, a lawyer for Mr. Fleishman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Judge Jed S. Rakoff set Mr. Fleishman’s sentencing for Dec. 21.

Over the last two years, federal prosecutors in Manhattan have charged 54 people with crimes related to insider trading. Of those, 49 have pleaded guilty or been convicted.

Mr. Fleishman was the sixth person to take a case to trial. All six have been found guilty, including Raj Rajaratnam, the former head of the Galleon Group hedge fund and Winifred Jiau, a former consultant at Primary Global.

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