May 9 (Bloomberg) -- Former Marvell Technology Group Ltd. accountant Stanley Ng was sentenced to two years’ probation for his role in an insider-trading scheme involving so-called expert networking firms.
Ng, who was the Securities and Exchanges Commission reporting manager for Hamilton, Bermuda-based Marvell, pleaded guilty in December, admitting that he passed information about the chipmaker’s earnings in 2007 and 2008 to two members of an “investment club” that prosecutors said was set up to trade illegal stock tips.
“Everyone agrees that this defendant is at the very low end of insider trading, a very, very limited offense brought about in large part by his relation to Ms. Jiau,” U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff said today at Ng’s sentencing in Manhattan, referring to Winifred Jiau, a former consultant with expert-networking firm Primary Global Research LLC.
Jiau was convicted by a jury and sentenced to four years in prison in the scheme by Rakoff.
In addition to the term of probation, Ng must perform 400 hours of community service, pay a $2,000 fine and forfeit $6,464. In sentencing Ng to probation, Rakoff agreed with the recommendation of U.S. probation officials. Federal sentencing guidelines called for six months to a year of prison, Rakoff said.
The prosecution is part of a nationwide probe of insider trading by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York.
The government said Ng was recruited by Jiau, who sold Ng’s tips to Noah Freeman, a former SAC Capital Advisors LP portfolio manager, and to Samir Barai, founder of New York-based Barai Capital Management LP, for a monthly fee.
Freeman and Barai have both pleaded guilty.
Ng’s lawyer, Silvia Serpe, told Rakoff today that her client didn’t make any money or trade on any inside information. He passed tips to Jiau only after she nagged him repeatedly, Serpe said.
“She kept going, she kept at it,” Serpe told Rakoff today. “Not one phone call -- two, three, four, five calls for each period until she got what she wanted.”
Ng said he passed information to Jiau and Sonny Nguyen, a former employee at Nvidia Corp., about Marvell’s quarterly results before they were made public. In exchange, Ng said he received similar stock tips from his co-conspirators.
Apologies to Court
“I have been very profoundly affected by my actions,” Ng told Rakoff in the hearing. “I’d like to apologize to the court, my family, my friends, my former colleagues and employer and anyone else who has been affected by my actions.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Avi Weitzman, who prosecuted the case, said in court papers that Ng should get six to 12 months in prison.
Weitzman said that after Marvell conducted an internal investigation following Jiau’s arrest in December 2010, Ng “flat-out lied and answered that he did not have any familiarity with Jiau.” He later acknowledged meeting her “but continued to lie, denying having any ongoing contact with her or providing Jiau any information about Marvell,” according to the prosecutor.
After Ng refused to cooperate further, Marvell terminated him.
Nguyen, who worked in Nvidia’s finance department and testified against Jiau, got one year of probation.
The case is U.S. v. Ng, 11-02096, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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