SEC and DOJ Commence, Respectively, Civil and Criminal Insider Trading Actions Against a Doctor Who Allegedly Tipped Off a Hedge Fund Manager to Impending Negative Information About a Drug Trial

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has commenced a civil insider trading action against Dr. Yves M. Benhamou (Benhamou) after a hedge fund allegedly traded on inside information provided by Benhamou about the prospects of Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (HGSI).  Benhamou is a doctor who was on a steering committee overseeing a clinical trial of HGSI’s drug Albumin Interferon Alfa 2-a (Albuferon).  An unnamed hedge fund manager, through six separate funds (Funds), owned over six million shares of HGSI.  One of its investment managers was a friend and business acquaintance of Benhamou.  According to the Complaint, Benhamou revealed material nonpublic information about the Albuferon trial to the investment manager from December 2007 through January 2008.  During that same period, the Funds sold all of their HGSI shares, including a block trade of the Funds’ remaining two million shares at the close of trading on January 22, 2008, the day before HGSI announced negative information about the Albuferon trial.  By selling prior to that announcement, the Funds avoided a $30 million loss on the HGSI shares.  The SEC charges that Benhamou violated the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934.  The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has also brought criminal insider trading charges against him.  Benhamou was arrested in Boston on November 2, 2010.  We summarize the SEC’s civil complaint.

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