Former LinkBrokers Derivatives Corp. employee Benjamin Chouchane was sentenced to two years in prison for his role in a stock fraud scheme in which brokers lied to clients about the prices of securities bought and sold for their accounts.
Chouchane pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud, saying that he and other brokers had misrepresented the prices at which securities were bought and sold, earning their employer illegal profits and bonuses for themselves.
The defendant and his lawyer today asked U.S. District Judge John Keenan for leniency, arguing that he should be given credit for working with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to help provide information about his fraud and others who engaged in the scheme.
“I have tried to conduct my life with integrity and respect for others,” Chouchane told the judge. “The career I spent years on is over,” he said. “I am sorry for the pain I caused my family since my arrest, their lives have been turned upside down.”
Defense lawyer Marc Mukasey said that Chouchane had also offered to aid federal prosecutors and they declined his request. He argued that Chouchane had the misfortune of working at a business in which compliance and following the law isn’t a priority.
‘Everybody Did It’
“That fact that everybody did it does not make it right,” Keenan said sharply, saying it reminded him of the argument he heard from police officers accused of wrongdoing while he served as a special prosecutor in corruption cases in the 1970s. “I don’t buy the argument.”
U.S. probation officials had recommended a three-year prison term for Chouchane. Keenan said he was giving Chouchane a sentence lower than the five-year term sought by the government because he was swayed by the letters submitted on his behalf.
“The scheme went on from 2005 to 2008; this was not a one-shot deal, this went on and on,” Keenan said. “Because of the defendant’s conduct and because of his prior excellent background and history, I will take a significant variance from the recommended term.”
The judge also ordered Chouchane to sell his Manhattan apartment to satisfy a $5 million order of forfeiture the defendant agreed to pay when he pleaded guilty. He ordered the defendant to surrender to U.S. prison officials by Jan. 6. LinkBrokers is a unit of London-based ICAP Plc.
The criminal cases are U.S. v. Chouchane, 12-cr-00923, and U.S. v. Condron, 1:12-cr-00768, and the SEC case is SEC v. Leszczynski, 12-cv-7488, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).