Vinayak Gowrish, a former associate at private-equity firm TPG Capital LP, violated U.S. insider- trading laws by leaking information about pending acquisitions to a friend, a federal court jury found.
The jury sided with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday against Gowrish in a civil trial in San Francisco, Robert Kaplan, co-chief of the SEC’s asset-management unit, said today in a telephone interview.
The agency sued Gowrish, of San Francisco, in December 2009 claiming that he fed tips on takeover talks involving Sabre Holding Corp. TXU Corp. and Alliance Data Systems Corp. to a friend who was an investment banker at Lazard Freres & Co. Gowrish received cash and other benefits for the tips, the SEC claimed.
“Private-equity firms are key players in the capital formation process and routinely possess material nonpublic information,” said Kaplan. “When employees of those firms like Gowrish betray investors for personal profit, the commission stands ready to hold them accountable.”
The government is seeking disgorgement of trading profits, civil penalties and a court order against further violations of insider-trading law.
John Hemann, Gowrish’s attorney, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment.
Gowrish fed tips to former Lazard Freres investment banker Adnan Zaman, a lifelong friend and college fraternity brother, in 2006 and 2007, the SEC said. Zaman passed the information on to two friends who also socialized with Gowrish. The two made $375,000 trading on the information and Gowrish received from $6,000 to $15,000 for the tips, lawyers said at the trial.
Zaman settled with the SEC and pleaded guilty to criminal charges. He and another defendant in the case who received a deferred prosecution deal testified for the SEC at trial.
The case is SEC v. Gowrish, 3:09-05883, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).