A judge in New York has allowed a civil lawsuit to proceed against Preet Bharara, the U .S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and others involved in an insider trading investigation.
Judge William Pauley rejected most of the government’s claims seeking a dismissal of the case and gave the OK for David Ganek, founder of hedge fund Level Global, to move forward with his lawsuit.
According to the suit, the insider trading probe allegedly undertaken by the Indian American attorney in Manhattan and others led to the closing of Level Global.
“Discovery is now appropriate to ascertain whether this case is about a simple misunderstanding or whether something more troubling was afoot,” Pauley said in a 35-page decision released March 10, denying a motion to dismiss the case by Bharara and other defendants.
Ganek, in a Financial Times report, deemed the judge’s ruling “a tremendous victory” and went on to say it “brings us one step closer to sorely needed deterrence for preventing the government from engaging in this kind of misconduct without any concern about the consequences.”
Ganek sued Bharara and others in 2015 for damages, alleging his civil rights were violated when FBI agents raided Level Global’s offices in 2010, based on information about insider trading in Dell Computer stock from a firm analyst, which supervisors in Bharara’s office tipped off The Wall Street Journal about.
Based on a sworn affidavit that indicated a former employee at Level Global provided Ganek inside information, a U.S. judge approved the raid.
However, an FBI agent and the former employee testified at trial that the employee never said Ganek was told the inside information came from someone at Dell.
Despite Ganek’s lawyers imploring Bharara to publicly acknowledge that Ganek was not a target or the firm would collapse, the attorney refused, the lawsuit added. In 2011, Level Global went under.
Though never charged with wrongdoing, prosecutors said Ganek was a co-conspirator at the trial of his former co-founder, Anthony Chiasson. Chiasson was found guilty by a jury in 2012, but his conviction was later overturned in 2014 at an appeals court, rejecting the government’s theory of what constitutes insider trading.
Pauley, calling the allegations “grave,” has now allowed Ganek’s lawyer to gather evidence and take depositions to find out what actually happened.
“We are confident that the facts will demonstrate that this was no misunderstanding but rather that it was something far more nefarious,” said the lawyer, Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann, in a New York Newsday report.
In addition to Level Global closing three months after the public raid, Diamondback and Loch Capital, two other hedge funds raided that day, also subsequently closed.