Ex-Whittier Analyst Who Aided Probe May Avoid Prison

Danny Kuo, a former analyst who pleaded guilty in 2012 to taking part in an insider-trading ring that included ex-SAC Capital Advisors LP fund manager Michael Steinberg, should be spared a prison term because of his assistance to the government, a prosecutor said.

Kuo, who worked at South Pasadena, California-based Whittier Trust Co., admitted he traded on illegal tips and shared information about Dell Inc. and Nvidia Corp. Prosecutors said he was one of a group of analysts who nicknamed themselves the “Fight Club” after the Brad Pitt film and swapped tips that they passed to the portfolio managers they worked for, helping them make millions of dollars in illicit profits.

Kuo, who agreed to plead guilty in January 2012, provided information about his sources of illegal tips that led to their convictions, prosecutors said. They include Hyung Lim, a former Altera Corp. executive who pleaded guilty and also testified against Steinberg.

“Kuo provided substantial assistance in a number of ways,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Antonia Apps said in letter to U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in Manhattan. Apps said that Kuo also aided in an unrelated immigration fraud probe in California.

The portfolio managers connected to the ring include former Diamondback Capital Management LLC portfolio manager Todd Newman and Level Global Investors LP co-founder Anthony Chiasson. Like Steinberg, they were convicted by a jury at trial. All three are appealing.

Sullivan agreed to postpone Kuo’s sentencing, which was scheduled for May. He did so in part so the defendant could participate in his graduation ceremony from the University of Southern California business school, where he received a master’s in business administration, according to his lawyer, Roland Riopelle.

The case is U.S. v. Kuo, 12-cr-00121, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.