Ex-BlackRock Portfolio Manager Charged With Insider Dealing

  • Mark Lyttleton charges linked to equities trade, call option
  • Charges follow Lyttleton’s arrest in west London in 2013

A former BlackRock Inc. portfolio manager was charged with insider trading, making him one of the most high-profile individuals prosecuted by the U.K. financial markets regulator.

Mark Lyttleton, 45, faces three charges in relation to equities trades and a call option in late 2011, the Financial Conduct Authority said in a statement Thursday. He was arrested along with his wife at their west London home in May 2013.

Mark Lyttleton

Photographer: David Rose/Bloomberg

Lyttleton, who was based in BlackRock’s London office, ran funds including the BlackRock U.K. Dynamic Fund and the BlackRock U.K. Absolute Alpha Fund before he left the asset manager in March 2013.

The FCA said in July that suspicious trading increased in the U.K. last year, occurring ahead of almost a fifth of all deals, despite several successful prosecutions for the offense. The rise comes after several years of declines, and a series of high-profile victories for the agency.

Monty Raphael, a lawyer for Lyttleton, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. Lyttleton’s wife was dropped from the probe last year.

He attended a court hearing today in London, the FCA said, and was bailed to appear at a higher court in October. He hasn’t entered a plea. Insider dealing carries a sentence of as much as seven years in prison.

BlackRock, the world’s biggest money manager, said that clients weren’t affected by any of Lyttleton’s alleged conduct.

‘Personal Gain’

"The FCA has informed us that the charges against a former employee relate to alleged actions carried out in 2011 for his personal gain, while off our premises, and that neither BlackRock, nor any employee, was under investigation," a spokesman for BlackRock said in an e-mailed statement.

Lyttleton, who is British, started his career in finance at Mercury Asset Management Group Plc after graduating from York University with a degree in chemistry. Merrill Lynch & Co. acquired Mercury in 1997 and then sold it to BlackRock for $9.4 billion in 2006.

According to his LinkedIn page he is now a personal coach, mentor and angel investor.

"I have experienced many highs (excelling at work) and lows (being arrested) and the understanding I try to share can be beneficial to people in all positions, in all walks of life," he says in a summary on the social media profile.

In other recent cases, a former Deutsche Bank AG corporate broker was handed a record 4 1/2-year prison term in May in the FCA’s biggest insider trading probe -- Operation Tabernula. In another case, a former London equities trader at Schroders Plc was sentenced to two years in prison in June after pleading guilty.

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