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Court in NYC upholds insider trading conviction

•  National News     updated  2013/07/02 09:29


A stock trader nicknamed "the Octopussy" because he had access to so many sources of inside information was properly convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison, a federal appeals court concluded Monday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Zvi Goffer and two others in a case the government had once touted as the biggest insider trading prosecution in history.

In all, more than two dozen defendants were convicted, including a one-time billionaire whose hedge funds had commanded as much as $7 billion.

The Israeli-born Goffer was convicted with two others in 2011 in a conspiracy to pay bribes to two lawyers at a Manhattan law firm. The government said Goffer and others earned more than $10 million illegally.

Goffer, whose nickname is a reference to a James Bond film, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after prosecutors said he arranged to pay two attorneys nearly $100,000 in 2007 and 2008 for inside tips on mergers and acquisitions. Prosecutors said Goffer's network used prepaid cellphones to avoid detection and destroyed them after each successful tip.

His lawyers challenged his conviction and sentence on several grounds, including that wiretap evidence should have been suppressed, that jury instructions were erroneous and that Goffer was punished for refusing to plead guilty.

A three-judge panel of the Manhattan appeals court noted the novelty of using wiretaps in a securities fraud case as it rejected defense arguments that the law permitting wiretaps does not list securities fraud as an offense for which it can be used.

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