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French Doctor Gets Time Served in Hedge-Fund Tipping Case

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Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Yves Benhamou, a French physician who passed inside information on drug trials to FrontPoint Partners LLC fund manager Joseph F. “Chip” Skowron, was sentenced to the time he already served in custody.

Benhamou pleaded guilty in April to securities fraud, making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and two counts of conspiracy for passing tips that Human Genome Sciences Inc.’s hepatitis C drug trials were being halted. He was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan federal court.

In sentencing Benhamou, 51, to the 24 days he spent in custody after his arrest in November 2010, Daniels cited his cooperation with the government’s investigation and his importance to his patients in France. Benhamou, who was born in Morocco, is a specialist in diseases of the liver.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Pablo Quinones told Daniels that Benhamou’s cooperation “put the nail in the coffin” of the government’s case against Skowron, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced last month to five years in prison.

“I cannot find the words to express how sorry I am and how much regret I feel,” Benhamou told Daniels.

Federal Guidelines

Federal sentencing guidelines, which aren’t binding, called for Benhamou to receive 108 to 135 months in prison, according to a pre-sentencing report prepared for the judge.

“Mr. Skowron manipulated and corrupted him,” Benhamou’s lawyer, David Zornow, told Daniels in the hearing today.

Skowron, a Yale University-educated physician from Greenwich, Connecticut, was sentenced last month to five years in prison. He admitted that after Benhamou passed him the non-public information, FrontPoint sold its stock, avoiding $30 million in losses, according to the U.S.

Daniels ordered Benhamou to pay $6 million in restitution, for which he and Skowron are jointly liable. He also sentenced Benhamou to three years of supervised release. Daniels told him to report to probation officials before returning to France and if he travels to the U.S.

The case is U.S. v. Benhamou, 11-CR-336, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Van Voris in Manhattan federal court rvanvoris@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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