Wednesday, September 10, 2014

And today’s orange jump suit goes to Mathew Martoma.

Yet another Wall Street fraudster will soon to be kitted out with a decidedly non-bespoke orange jump suit.

The felon of the week this time around is Mathew Martoma, who was a portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors, and will be doing nine years for, depending on the way you interpret things:

a) insider trading
b) refusing to roll on Steve Cohen, who the Feds are really after
c) cheating his way out of Harvard Law and into Stanford Business
d) a and b, but not c
e) a and c, but not b
f) b and c, but not a
g) all of the above

This is, admittedly, an awfully multiple multiple choice, but I’m going to go with “all of the above.”

Martoma, 40, convicted of making $275 million for SAC by using illegal tips to trade in Elan Corp. and Wyeth LLC, had rejected government offers of leniency in exchange for his cooperation in the probe of Cohen and his Stamford, Connecticut-based hedge fund. (Source: Bloomberg.)

Ah, Elan.

Many years ago, my husband made some money on this stock.

I don’t remember how he dug them up, but I do remember that they were headquartered in Ireland, and that on a couple of trips to the Old Sod we passed by and Elan building.

Of course, Jim didn’t make any $275 million on his trades.

Then again, Jim wasn’t trading on insider info that revealed that the clinical trials on a promising Alzheimer drug were showing disappointing results, insider info that let SAC drop its Elan holdings before the trial results went public and the stock price dogged. (SAC had revved up its holdings to begin with on the basis of leaked info that Martoma was getting that the trials were going well.)

Martoma is the seventh SAC-er to be convicted of insider trading.

This is a Magnificent Seven, but I’m sure the Feds would just as soon have nabbed SAC founder Steve Cohen, the big kahuna they were really after.

Martoma, who is married with three young children, asked for less prison time, arguing that he isn’t as blameworthy as other recent insider-trading defendants, including Raj Rajaratnam, who’s serving an 11-year sentence in a medical prison in Massachusetts.

Love that “other guy” excuse. And, it looks like it worked, as Martoma got “only” nine years, vs. Rajaratnam’s eleven.

Richard Strassberg, Martoma’s lawyer, told Gardephe that a prison term of two to three years would be appropriate. Martoma submitted 140 letters from supporters urging the judge to be lenient.

Martoma has already been substantially punished, Strassberg said. He lost his career and has been financially ruined, the lawyer said.

God, I hate to quote bad 1970’s TV shows like Baretta, but “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

Not that figuring out what’s insider trading vs. what’s doing your homework isn’t a tricky and ill-defined business, but this Martoma seems like bad news.

In fact, in setting the length of the prison sentence, the judge was asked to take Martoma’s earlier dishonesty into consideration:

They told the judge that Martoma’s 1999 expulsion from Harvard Law School for creating a forged transcript “speaks volumes” about his character. Martoma sent the forgery to 23 federal appeals court judges with his application for clerkships.

In general, getting expelled by Harvard does not increase the likelihood of being accepted by Stanford. But a couple of years after Martoma got the hook from Harvard Law, he managed to weasel his way into Stanford Business School.

This was, of course, back in the day before admissions folks did a lot of background checking on candidates, but accepted it on face value if you failed to disclose, say, that you’d ever been at Harvard Law, let alone that they’d booted you out for changing all those “B’s” to “A’s”.

There’s more (of course):

After Harvard kicked him out, Martoma, who at the time was known as Ajai Mathew Thomas, legally changed his name to Mathew Martoma in 2001, the same year he arrived on Stanford's campus. (Sourc: John Byrne on Linkedin Pulse.)

Interesting about the name change.

Martoma’s apparently not the only one.

Sure, Steven Cohen is still Steven Cohen, but good old SAC Capital is now calling itself Point72 Asset Management.

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