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Primary Global Workers Sued by SEC in Insider Probe

SEC Sues FDA Chemist
The Securities and Exchange Commission says Cheng Yi Liang, 57, made trades ahead of Food and Drug Administration drug decisions. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

Six former employees and consultants at Primary Global Research LLC, a so-called expert-networking firm tied to a nationwide insider trading probe, were sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for tipping investors including hedge funds.

Mark A. Longoria, Daniel L. DeVore, James Fleishman, Bob Nguyen, Winifred Jiau and Walter Shimoon already face charges as part of a criminal investigation of hedge fund insider trading that began with New York-based Galleon Group LLC. The probe expanded to other hedge funds, banks and technology companies, as well as consulting firms such as Mountain View, California-based Primary Global. Their tips allegedly helped investors reap $6 million in illegal profits, the SEC said.

“Company executives and other insiders moonlighting as consultants to hedge funds cannot blatantly peddle their company’s confidential information for personal gain,” said Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, in a statement. “These PGR consultants and employees schemed to facilitate widespread and repeated insider trading by several hedge funds and other investment professionals.”

Primary Global connects investors with industry specialists who provide them with insight into their specific markets. Prosecutors have alleged that company insiders were paid to provide material nonpublic information to investors.

More than 30 people have been charged in overlapping conspiracies tied to the Galleon case.

Insider Probe

The federal insider-trading probe became public in 2009 with the arrest of Galleon co-founder Raj Rajaratnam. Rajaratnam, 53, who denies wrongdoing in the case, is scheduled to go on trial Feb. 28 in Manhattan.

Longoria, 44, who worked for Advanced Micro Devices Inc., DeVore, 46, a former global supply manager for Dell Inc., Shimoon, 39, a former Flextronics International Ltd. vice president and Jiau, 43, all worked as paid consultants for Primary Global without their employers’ knowledge, the SEC said.

The regulator described Jiau as having worked for “various technology companies in Northern California.”

The four consultants are alleged to have passed inside information to hedge funds while working for Primary Global.

Nguyen, 32, and Fleishman, 41, were both employees of Primary Global. The SEC claims Nguyen and Fleishman helped pass information from the consultants to the hedge funds and investors that were Primary Global’s customers.

Didn’t See Complaint

Susan Cassell, a lawyer for Nguyen, said she hadn’t seen the complaint.

“I am completely in the dark,” Cassell said.

Jonathan Marks, a lawyer for Longoria, and Johnny Sutton, who represents DeVore, declined to comment.

Henry Mazurek, a lawyer for Shimoon, Frederick Hafetz, who represents Jiau, and Fleishman’s attorney, Benjamin Lee Coleman, didn’t immediately return phone messages seeking comment on the SEC complaint.

The case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Longoria, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. (Manhattan)

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