U.S. charges Israeli traders in healthcare insider trading scheme

A gavel and a block is pictured at the George Glazer Gallery antique store in this illustration picture taken in Manhattan, New York City

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors on Thursday unveiled criminal charges in Manhattan accusing two Israeli traders of illegal trading in several biotechnology and healthcare companies in connection with a sprawling international insider trading scheme.

Tomer Feingold and Dov Malnik were accused in a 15-count indictment of securities fraud, wire fraud, tender offer fraud, concealment of a money laundering scheme, and conspiracy.

Authorities have said the defendants, who lived in Geneva, Switzerland, generated millions of dollars of profit by trading on nonpublic information concerning mergers and potential transactions involving such companies as Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc, Avanir Pharmaceuticals Inc and InterMune Inc.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed related civil charges against Feingold and Malnik in March 2020. Their indictment had been sealed before Thursday.

Lawyers representing Feingold and Malnik in the SEC case did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The office of U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in Manhattan said Malnik is in federal custody but Feingold is not.

According to the SEC, Feingold and Malnik obtained tips from another trader in Switzerland, who had obtained them from investment bankers Benjamin Taylor and Darina Windsor, who had worked respectively at Moelis & Co and Centerview Partners LLC.

The other trader, identified in media reports as Marc Demane Debih from Geneva, pleaded guilty to 38 charges and cooperated in U.S. prosecutors’ insider trading case against Telemaque Lavidas, a pharmaceutical executive.

Lavidas was convicted in January 2010 and later sentenced to one year and one day in prison.

He had been among six people charged in four indictments in October 2019 over an insider trading scheme that prosecutors said generated tens of millions of dollars in illegal profit.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)