This content is from: Corner Office

Level Global Founder David Ganek Loses Fight Against the Feds

A U.S. appeals court dismissed Ganek’s 2015 lawsuit alleging that the FBI lied to obtain a search warrant to raid his former firm.

  • Alicia McElhaney

The hedge fund manager who filed a lawsuit following a 2010 insider trading investigation that targeted his former firm has lost his bid for justice.

David Ganek, founder of the now-defunct hedge fund firm Level Global Investors, had filed a lawsuit in 2015 alleging that the Federal Bureau of Investigation lied to obtain a search warrant of his firm as part of then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara’s wide-ranging crackdown on insider trading. But in a decision announced on Tuesday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan reversed a lower court’s opinion that had previously declined to dismiss Ganek’s case.

“This is a dangerous day for private citizens and a great day for ambitious, attention-seeking prosecutors who are now being rewarded with total immunity even when they lie and leak," Ganek said in an emailed statement to Institutional Investor. "The good news is this ruling does not preclude the Department of Justice from bringing disciplinary charges." 

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment on the decision. 

Level Global was one of several firms targeted in the probe. The firm became a target in the insider trading sting after one of its analysts, Spyridon (Sam) Adondakis, had told the FBI he executed trades of Dell shares with insider information. But Adondakis and an FBI agent later testified that he had never said that, according to a Reuters report.

Neither Ganek nor Level Global were ever charged, but the firm shut down in February 2011 after some investors redeemed and the firm told clients in a letter that it would be difficult to continue operating amid the uncertainty surrounding the investigation. It had roughly $4 billion in assets.

In January 2016, Level Global won a federal court case that dismissed a $21.5 million civil penalty paid to the SEC on related charges.

[II Deep Dive: Hedge Fund Manager David Ganek Still Wants His Day in Court]

In 2016, Ganek told a crowd of nearly 400 investors and financial professionals at the Delivering Alpha conference in New York that he decided to file the lawsuit after talking about his situation with Barry Scheck, the co-founder of the Innocence Project, which works to free people incarcerated for crimes they did not commit.

According to Ganek, there was little or no evidence suggesting that he knew of any insider trading taking place at his firm. Additionally, he said at the conference that the firm could have survived the probe if the U.S. attorney’s office made it clear that Ganek himself was not the subject of the sting.

Ganek invests via his own family office, Apocalypse 22, in New York.