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Ex-Nvidia Analyst Gets Probation for Passing Inside Tip

Son Ngoc “Sonny” Nguyen, a former senior financial analyst for Nvidia Corp., was sentenced to one year of probation for passing an inside tip about the company’s earnings in a case that is part of the U.S. government’s crackdown on insider trading at hedge funds.

Nguyen pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud, admitting that he gave the information to Winifred Jiau, a former consultant with expert networking firm Primary Global Research LLC who is serving a four-year sentence for selling tips on technology companies to hedge funds.

Nguyen, who cooperated with the government, testified at Jiau’s trial that he gave her confidential data about the chipmaker’s quarterly earnings in August 2008, before they were made public. He was sentenced in Manhattan today by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who ordered him to forfeit $6,464.

“If you Google Mr. Nguyen, you will get all the articles written about his involvement in this case,” his lawyer, Douglas Schneider, told Rakoff. “He has a scarlet letter -- especially in this age of the Internet -- that he is not going to be able to get rid of.”

Nguyen had asked for a non-prison sentence, arguing that he played a minimal role in Jiau’s insider-trading ring, that he stopped passing tips long before he was arrested and that he helped the government convict Jiau.

Investment Club

Nvidia, based in Santa Clara, California, is a maker of graphics chips. Nguyen quit his job as a senior financial analyst at Nvidia after pleading guilty. He now works as a consultant, according to papers he filed with the court seeking leniency.

Nguyen said he met Jiau, who was working as a temporary employee in Nvidia’s finance department, in 2007. Nguyen became a member of Jiau’s “investment club,” which prosecutors said she started to trade on inside information.

Nguyen traded on two tips from the club, making about $3,200 on Marvell Technology Group Ltd. and losing $7,000 on SanDisk Corp., Schneider said. The forfeiture imposed by Rakoff is two times Nguyen’s Marvell profit.

The case is U.S. v. Nguyen, 11-cr-00161, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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