Former Hedge Fund Manager Joseph Contorinis Guilty of Insider Trading

Joseph Contorinis faces up to 145 years in prison and more than $35 million in fines in sentencing.

Joseph Contorinis

Joseph Contorinis is brought in handcuffs from FBI headquarters,Thursday, Feb 5, 2009, in New York. He is accused of making several million dollars from tips provided by an investment banker. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)

Louis Lanzano/AP

Former hedge fund manager Joseph Contorinis was found guilty Wednesday of one count of securities fraud conspiracy and seven counts of securities fraud in connection with an insider trading scheme that resulted in over $7 million in profits, according to Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Contorinis faces up to 145 years in prison and more than $35 million in fines. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 4.

The government did not name the firm where he had worked. The original indictment just noted he was an executive vice president of an investment bank and institutional securities firm with offices in New York and Stamford, Ct., and a co-portfolio manager of a hedge fund. However, in a parallel civil suit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in February 2009, Contorinis was identified as a Managing Director at Jefferies & Co., Inc. and portfolio manager for the Jefferies Paragon Fund.

According to the U.S. Attorney, from 2004 through June 2006, Contorinis executed securities trades based on material, non-public information about mergers and acquisitions that he received from Nicos A. Stephanou, who was working as an investment banker at UBS. The pair had a close personal friendship dating back to when they both worked at UBS before Contorinis moved over to Jefferies.

According to the government, Contorinis knew that Stephanou was providing confidential information. For example, from late 2005 through early 2006, Stephanou was on the investment banking team representing private equity firm Cerberus, which was interested in acquiring grocery chain Albertson’s, Inc. During the course of the transaction, Stephanou tipped Contorinis about positive and negative developments on the deal, and Contorinis executed trades based on that information.

As a result of the illegal trading, Contorinis made more than $7 million for his hedge fund. During the same period of time, Stephanou also provided insider information relating to the mergers and acquisitions of several public companies to two other friends—Michael Koulouroudis and George Paparrizos. Koulouroudis, Paparrizos and Stephanou previously pled guilty. “Today’s guilty verdict sends yet another strong message of deterrence to anyone who is thinking about gaming the system like Joseph Contorinis did,” said Bharara, in a statement. “The investing public should expect an ongoing focus on illegal insider trading by this Office.”