A Goldman Sachs banker has been charged with insider trading in a scheme that allegedly generated $2.6m in illegal profits as he tipped off a trader about multibillion-dollar deals involving bank clients like Syngenta.
Bryan Cohen, a vice-president at Goldman, was arrested Friday on federal criminal conspiracy charges in New York and released on bail, according to court records.
The indictment was not immediately available, but parallel civil charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission detailed the alleged scheme.
The SEC alleged Mr Cohen, 33, tipped off an unnamed trader about bids for Swiss agribusiness Syngenta in 2015 by Monsanto and ChemChina, and about Arby’s 2017 takeover of Buffalo Wild Wings in 2017.
“During the course of the scheme, Cohen in fact received substantial cash payments from Trader A in exchange for the inside information,” the SEC alleged. The securities regulator alleged the scheme generated at least $2.6m in illicit profits.
An attorney for Mr Cohen did not immediately return a request for comment on Saturday. A spokesperson for Goldman said the firm was co-operating with the authorities.
“Protecting client confidential information is our highest internal priority and we condemn this alleged behaviour,” the spokesperson said.
A person familiar with the situation said Mr Cohen had been put on leave on Friday, adding there was no indication that the bank itself was being accused of any wrongdoing.
The charges against Mr Cohen, first reported by Bloomberg on Saturday, are just the latest insider trading allegations against Goldman Sachs staff over the past two years.
In May 2018, a US-based Goldman Sachs banker, Woojae “Steve” Yung, was arrested for using information about the bank’s clients to generate $140,000 of illegal profits. Mr Yung later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three months in jail earlier this year.
In August last year, a former analyst at the bank, Damilare Sonoiki, was charged with insider trader in a scheme involving NFL star Mychal Kendricks. Both pleaded guilty.
The news caps off a bleak week for Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division, which on Tuesday reported a 15 per cent fall in third-quarter revenues, a bigger slump than its four biggest Wall Street rivals.
Mr Cohen’s LinkedIn profile shows he spent six months working in the M&A teams of Deutsche Bank, Rothschild and Natixis before joining Goldman Sachs’ London office as a vice-president in 2010. He still held that title when he moved to New York in August 2017.
The SEC also charged George Nikas, a 54-year-old Greek citizen who owns the “GRK Fresh” restaurant chain in New York, with participating in the insider trading scheme.
Mr Nikas could not be immediately reached for comment on Saturday.