Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Is SAC Capital's Steve Cohen Worth Catching?

While the government closes in on hedge fund titan Steve Cohen, Wall Street’s true villains go unpunished
Is SAC Capital's Steve Cohen Worth Catching?
Photo illustration By 731; Photograoh by Steve Marcus/Reuters

Preet Bharara started work as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on Aug. 13, 2009, less than a year after the most harrowing days of the financial crisis. Bharara’s office is known for prosecuting crime on Wall Street; his predecessors include Elihu Root, Henry Stimson, and Rudy Giuliani. In three and a half years on the job, Bharara has won convictions against Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, accused arms trafficker Victor Bout, and multiple corrupt New York politicians. But his claim to fame—the one that earned him the cover of Time last February—is his single-minded devotion to eliminating an insider-trading epidemic that seems to be rampant at certain hedge funds in and around New York City.

Two days before Thanksgiving, Bharara, who has already won some 70 convictions for insider trading, collected another pelt. At his direction, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Mathew Martoma, a 38-year-old former hedge fund manager at SAC Capital Advisors, at Martoma’s 8,000-square-foot Boca Raton (Fla.) mansion. In a statement, Bharara described Martoma’s alleged crime as “cheating coming and going—specifically, insider trading first on the long side, and then on the short side, on a scale that has no historical precedent.” Conspicuously absent from Bharara’s statement was any mention of Martoma’s former boss, Steven Cohen, the founder of SAC Capital. But Wall Street is rife with speculation that Cohen is Bharara’s ultimate target.