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Financial 411: New Cases in the Insider Trading Probe

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Even if the federal government hasn't criminally charged any of the big banks or their top executives for their role in the 2008 financial meltdown, there is one issue prosecutors have aggressively pursued: insider trading.

Opening statements began Thursday in the third insider trading trial to take place in New York City in a matter of months. Now former expert network consultant Winifred Jiau is in the spotlight, and she's not alone: the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating trades at the big hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, run by Steven Cohen.

Other investigations have resulted in dozens of insider trading charges, and several guilty pleas. Peter Lattman, a reporter at the New York Times, has covered a lot of these different stories.  

"In Manhattan alone, the federal prosecutors here have charged some 50 people with insider trading crimes over the past two years, and I think 39 of them have pleaded guilty already — and that's just in Manhattan," he said. "It seems like there's a pervasive culture here of wrongdoing on trading floors that the government's trying to root out."

Lattman explains the recent focus on insider trading, and talks about critics who say these pursuits have nothing to do with the financial crisis. He also describes the details of the Jiau case, and why the SAC is such a ripe target for the federal government.

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