What does the future hold for SAC employees and their iconic boss?
The inevitable has finally happened. SAC Capital on Monday agreed to a historic $1.8 billion settlement with regulators over criminal insider-trading charges. The fallout will be immense.
The headliner, other than the record fine, is the fact that SAC has agreed to shutter its investment advisory business. Following a timely unwinding of the hedge fund, SAC’s only course of action would be to transform itself into a family office, meaning it can only manage the money of founder Steven Cohen and other SAC employees. Expect the exodus on employees to continue, whether through layoffs or voluntary actions.
Another key detail that came out of the settlement is that the Justice Department has given exactly zero assurances that this is the end of the madness. No individual – including Cohen himself – has been given immunity from prosecution. The SEC’s civil case against Cohen will continue uninterrupted.
Then there is SAC’s relationship with banks and brokers, who make tens of millions of dollars with the trading machine that is SAC Capital. It was just two months ago when Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn called SAC “a great counterparty,” despite the insider trading charges. Will all of Wall Street continue trading with SAC after it becomes a family office?
As per usual, prosecutors are using the settlement as a warning to other firms that may foster an environment that encourages insider trading, even if upper management isn’t necessarily involved or even aware of the specific activity. "No institutions should rest easy in the belief that it is too big to jail," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bahrara. Cohen shouldn’t either.
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