(Adds Chinese government comment)
By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - A partner of a private equity firm with Chinese state backing was found guilty in a U.S. court on Tuesday of insider trading related to the attempted acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor Corp, prosecutors in New York said.
Benjamin Chow, who co-founded Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, was convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy by a jury in Manhattan federal court, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in a statement. Chow is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 20 by U.S. District Judge Gregory Woods.
Lawyers for Chow, 45, could not be immediately reached for comment.
“While we have been informed of the verdict, we have not had the opportunity to review the court’s ruling,” Canyon Bridge said in an emailed statement. “We will be assessing the situation.”
Speaking in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he had noted the report of the partner being found guilty but did not know anything about the situation.
China hopes that if the United States wants to make accusations about other countries they must “have a basis in fact,” he told a daily news briefing, without elaborating.
Canyon Bridge’s financing can be traced back to China’s State Council, the top decision-making body of the Chinese government, Reuters had previously reported.
Prosecutors charged Chow, a U.S. citizen born in China, with tipping a friend in 2016 about Canyon Bridge’s planned acquisition of Oregon-based Lattice before it was announced, allowing the friend to make about $5 million in profits.
The friend was identified in a separate lawsuit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year as Michael Yin, a former Hong Kong-based private equity executive who had become a hedge fund manager.
U.S. President Donald Trump blocked the Lattice deal in September.
Since then, Canyon Bridge has set its sights on acquisition targets outside of the United States. It closed on the purchase of British chipmaker Imagination Technologies Group Ltd for 550 million pounds ($718 million) late last year. The sale did not include a unit of the company, U.S. chip designer MIPS, which was divested to an investment firm.
According to Canyon Bridge’s website, Chow previously ran semiconductor investments for private equity firm Warburg Pincus in Asia, and was a managing director of China Reform Fund Management, a private equity investment firm financed at least in part by China’s government and its state-owned firms.
Two former business partners of Chow who declined to be named said he is a native of Tianjin, a port city 30 minutes from Beijing by high-speed train, and has relatives who work in the Tianjin government. (Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Additional reporting by Liana Baker and Gui Qing Koh in New York, and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Richard Chang and Jacqueline Wong)