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U.S. rests its case in insider trading trial of SAC's Steinberg

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[December 14, 2013]  By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters)  The government rested its case on Friday after four weeks of testimony in the insider trading trial of SAC Capital Advisors portfolio manager Michael Steinberg, sending the proceeding toward what is expected to be a swift resolution next week.

Steinberg's lawyer, Barry Berke, said the defense will call at most a few witnesses and present its case in less than a day. "We'll be in a position to sum up on Monday," he said.

Steinberg will not testify, Berke said.

Steinberg, 41, is charged with five counts of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud for trading in Dell Inc and Nvidia Corp based on alleged insider information. He denies wrongdoing.

With his indictment in March, Steinberg became the highest-level employee at Steven A. Cohen's hedge fund to face criminal insider trading charges. SAC agreed last month to plead guilty to fraud charges and pay $1.2 billion.

In Friday's proceedings, the government called Hyung Lim, the last of four cooperating witnesses, who prosecutors said was the origin of information about Nvidia on which they say Steinberg traded.


Lim, a former marketing executive at Altera Corp and Broadcom Corp, testified to giving confidential sales figures from his employers to an occasional poker friend, Danny Kuo, an analyst who worked at Bear Stearns and later, beginning in 2008, at Whittier Trust Co.

"It was easy information for me to get, and he was a friend," Lim said.

Later, Lim said, Kuo asked him if he "had a guy who could get him inside information" on Nvidia. Lim said that from 2008 to 2011 he passed along financial information from Chris Choi, a friend he met in church who worked in accounting at Nvidia.

Kuo pleaded guilty in 2012 to conspiracy and securities fraud charges. Choi, who could not be reached for comment on Friday, was not charged with wrongdoing.

As Lim passed along the tips, he said Kuo began paying him, once covering a $5,000 gambling debt in Las Vegas and twice providing envelopes with $5,000 in cash.

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Prosecutors say that Kuo in turn passed the Nvidia information on to other Wall Street analysts, including Jon Horvath, then at SAC's Sigma Capital Management division under Steinberg.

Horvath, who has pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud, testified earlier in the trial that he provided the Nvidia information from Kuo to Steinberg.

Also on Friday, Salvatore Cincinelli, an FBI special agent, testified that SAC made a profit of $409,530 on a set of Nvidia trades in 2009 that prosecutors say were based on inside information.

"The government has no further witnesses," Assistant U.S. Attorney Antonia Apps said, after calling four witnesses on Friday.

The case is U.S. v. Steinberg, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-cr-00121.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond; editing by Dan Grebler)

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