Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- A U.K. man accused of taking part in a multinational insider-trading scheme allegedly involving a former Central Asian government official was sentenced to time served by a U.S. judge.
Taiyyib Ali Munir, 30, was sentenced in Brooklyn, New York, federal court today by U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein on one count of conspiracy. Munir was arrested in July and initially accused of passing inside tips about Global Industries Ltd., Tyco International Ltd. and InterMune Inc.
During his plea hearing in October, he admitted to offering to sell confidential earnings reports about unspecified companies to a government informant last January. Ultimately, he didn’t provide the reports, prosecutors said in a memorandum filed Jan. 3.
“I am totally aware that I broke the law,” Munir told Weinstein today. “I did get cold feet and I didn’t go through with it, but I did conspire to break the law.”
Munir’s attorney, Pamela Johnston, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cristina Posa declined to comment further after the hearing. Posa also declined to say whether initial charging documents describing Munir’s alleged crimes were accurate.
The London-area resident was charged in an April criminal complaint with participating in a scheme allegedly stretching from Central Asia to Eastern Europe and New York. Prosecutors said he worked in the “financial industry,” without providing more details.
Prosecutors said Munir funneled tips to an informant, who in 2010 and 2011 was living in Eastern Europe and managing the accounts of a former government official of a Central Asian country. Neither the official nor the informant has been identified in public court filings.
The former official is Maksim Bakiyev, the son of former Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, a person close to the investigation confirmed in December. The person asked not to be named because the information isn’t public. The confidential witness for the government was a close friend and financial adviser to the Bakiyevs, Eugene Gourevitch, according to a spokesman for the current president of Kyrgyzstan.
Maksim Bakiyev was arrested in London in October, and the U.S. is trying to extradite him for conspiracy to commit securities fraud and obstructing justice, the U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan said Oct. 13 in a statement.
It is unclear from public documents how Munir came to be involved in the scheme. He is a British citizen and has been financially supported by family and friends, Johnston said during the hearing. At the proceeding, he wore a dark suit, tie and glasses, with his face cleanly shaven. He sat at a table in the courtroom with his lawyers and his sister, the only relative of his who was present during the sentencing, according to Johnston.
After his arrest, Munir spent a little less than a month in federal custody, Johnston told the judge. He appeared in Los Angeles federal court before being transferred to Brooklyn and was released on $1 million bail, secured by $200,000 in cash provided by his former girlfriend Dina Al Juffali, of London, according to court documents.
He faced a maximum of five years in prison on the conspiracy charge. Prosecutors said in court filings that a sentence of as long as six months was appropriate. They didn’t object to Munir’s request for time served. Posa told the judge that Munir wasn’t cooperating with the government.
“In this case, the defendant’s acts appear to be aberrational,” Weinstein said. “Although he did join the conspiracy he appears to have held back and did not do anything in connection with revealing information,” the judge continued, adding that Munir “comes from a very stable and close family.”
In the April criminal complaint, prosecutors alleged that from about 2010 through 2011, the informant invested “in securities listed variously on stock exchanges in New York, London, Milan and Madrid, based on ‘edge’ information obtained from Munir and CC-2,” referring to a co-conspirator who wasn’t named in the filing.
During a recorded conversation on Jan. 3, 2012, Munir asked the informant for $122,000 to pay two other conspirators who could obtain earnings reports 48 hours in advance of publication, according to the complaint. Munir told the informant the conspirators felt they were owed the funds as a result of past profitable trades, the government said in the filing.
“Obviously, they want payment,” Munir said during the conversation, according to a transcript of the recording excerpted in the complaint. “They want their last trade to be paid out.”
In another recorded conversation Jan. 12, 2012, Munir indicated that his conspirators had a source who was an ex-director of the New York Stock Exchange, according to the complaint.
“They’re not only getting these earnings with the paperwork 48 hours in advance, but they’ve also got the ex-director of the New York Stock Exchange,” Munir said, according to an excerpt from a transcript of the discussion referenced in the complaint.
The criminal case is U.S. v. Munir, 12-cr-648, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).
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