(Adds details of other defendants and quote from lawyer)
By Grant McCool
NEW YORK, Dec 18 (Reuters) - U.S. authorities said on Thursday a former Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc salesman tipped friends and relatives with inside information about 13 impending mergers by divulging confidential information he got from his wife, a public relations executive.
Matthew Devlin, of New York City, was charged with participating in an insider trading scheme, a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan showed. Two day traders, a lawyer and a brokerage salesman were also charged with illegal trades that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said netted $4.8 million in illegal profits.
The complaint said Devlin should have known not to divulge confidential information his wife, Nina, shared with him.
His wife is a partner in public relations firm Brunswick Group LLC and she was not charged in the case.
Brunswick said in a statement: “The husband of a Brunswick employee has been arrested by U.S. authorities for using information obtained illegally from her and without her knowledge, which has then passed to third parties.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan said Matthew Devlin, 35, entered a plea of guilty on Dec. 16 before U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones to a complaint charging him with four counts of conspiracy to commit insider trading and one count of securities fraud.
It said day traders Jamil Bouchareb, 27, and Daniel Corbin, 32, of Miami Beach, Florida and former Lehman employee Frederick Bowers, 40, and a lawyer Eric Holzer, 34, of New York City were arrested on Thursday on charges of conspiracy and securities fraud.
Bouchareb’s lawyer Lilly Anne Sanchez said in a statement that “there is no credible proof of knowledge on the part of Mr Bouchareb and once all the true facts are revealed he will be exonerated.”
A lawyer for Bowers said his client would fight the charges. Lawyers for the other defendants could not be reached for comment.
Court documents showed that the government accused them of illegal trades in transactions including Novartis AG NOVN.VX acquiring Eon Labs in 2005 and Alcoa Inc’s (AA.N) hostile offer for Alcan in 2007.
In a statement, James J. Benjamin, Jr., partner in the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and counsel for Nina Devlin, said: “She was completely unaware that confidential information about her job was being used as the basis for securities trading. She is devastated by this terrible situation.”
A separate complaint in the same alleged insider trading ring was filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday against seven people and two companies. It said the trades yielded more than $4.8 million in illegal profits between March 2004 and July this year.
Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in September and was partially taken over by Barclays.
“Barclays Wealth and Lehman Brothers prior to its acquisition cooperated fully with law enforcement authorities to assist them in their investigation into this alleged insider trading ring,” Barclays said in a statement.
The SEC said that some traders referred to Devlin and his wife as the “golden goose.”
The SEC complaint also said that in exchange for providing inside information, Devlin was rewarded with cash and luxury goods like a Cartier watch, a Barneys New York gift card, a wide-screen TV and a Ralph Lauren leather jacket. (Editing by Toni Reinhold and Gary Hill)