Alleged SAC Tipper Aggarwal Has Guilty Plea Hearing

Sandeep Aggarwal, a former research analyst accused of giving inside tips to a former SAC Capital Advisors LP fund manager, has a “guilty plea hearing” scheduled for Nov. 8, prosecutors said in a court filing.

Talks with a defense lawyer have been held at least since September, according to the Nov. 1 filing in federal court in Manhattan.

“The parties have made substantial progress in our discussions,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. O’Donnell wrote. No details of a possible plea were in the document or the case docket.

A lawyer for Aggarwal, Sean Casey, declined through an assistant to comment on plea talks.

Aggarwal made an initial appearance in federal court in San Francisco on July 30 after being arrested the day before by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in San Jose, California. He was released on a $500,000 bond, according to court records.

The analyst was charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He’s accused of passing tips about a pending venture between Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corp. and faces a potential maximum punishment of 25 years in prison.

SAC Capital, owned by billionaire Steven Cohen, was indicted July 25 in what the U.S. called an unprecedented, decade-long insider trading scheme. SAC has agreed to plead guilty to securities fraud and wire fraud and pay a record $1.8 billion in penalties, according to federal prosecutors.

Insider Tips

In July 2009, Aggarwal provided material nonpublic information about a strategic partnership in Internet search and advertising between Microsoft and Yahoo to two hedge funds, including SAC, the U.S. alleged in a criminal complaint.

According to the U.S., on July 9, 2009, Aggarwal learned from a friend employed by Microsoft about the partnership discussions and that a transaction was likely to be announced within weeks. The next day, Aggarwal gave the information to a money manager at SAC, the U.S. said. He also passed the information to about 14 traders and hedge fund managers, the government said.

The case is U.S. v. Aggarwal, 13-mj-01877, and the SAC case is U.S. v. SAC Capital Advisors LP, 13-cr-00541, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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