SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 16472 \ March 16, 2000
UNITED STATES v. ARJUN SEKHRI 00 CR 236 (RPP)
FORMER FUGITIVE INVESTMENT BANKER, EXTRADITED FROM AUSTRALIA, PLEADS GUILTY TO CRIMINAL CHARGES OF INSIDER TRADING
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced that on March 14, 2000, Arjun Sekhri, a former investment banking associate at Salomon Smith Barney, Inc. in New York City, pled guilty to criminal charges of insider trading. The criminal information to which Sekhri pled guilty charges Sekhri with conspiracy to commit securities fraud, securities fraud, and fraud in connection with a tender offer. Sekhri fled the United States around the time civil and criminal charges were filed against him in 1998. He was arrested in Australia and subsequently waived extradition.
The charges arise out of an insider trading scheme in which Sekhri misappropriated inside information from Salomon. On April 1, 1998, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed an insider trading case involving Sekhri and others in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The SEC's amended complaint, filed on May 19, 1998, charges Sekhri and seven other individuals to whom Sekhri supplied confidential information with illegal insider trading. The SEC alleges that, from September 1997 through January 1998, Sekhri, Amolak Sehgal, Pratima Rajan, Fuad Dow, Gordon W. Cochrane, Martin L. Thifault, Rohina Sharma, and Sharad Kapoor engaged in a highly profitable insider trading scheme by collectively purchasing call options and/or common stock shortly before six major corporate announcements. The defendants reaped total profits of at least $1.8 million from their illegal securities transactions.
The SEC alleges that Sekhri, the source of the inside information, was an investment banking associate at Salomon at the time of the trading. Salomon provided investment banking services in each of the relevant corporate transactions and Sekhri worked specifically on at least one of those transactions. Sekhri tipped Dow, Sekhri's former college roommate. Dow then tipped Cochrane and Thifault, all three of whom collectively purchased common stock and/or call options on the stock of MCI Communications Corp., Brooks Fiber Properties, Inc., Carson Pirie Scott & Co., Inc., Central and South West Corp., and Southern New England Telecommunications Corp. in advance of six different public announcements of significant mergers involving these companies. The complaint alleges that Sekhri also tipped Sehgal, his father-in-law, in advance of at least four of these announcements; Rajan, his friend, in advance of at least three of these announcements; Kapoor, his friend and then a broker at Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. in San Jose, California, in advance of six of these announcements; and Sharma, Kapoor's wife, in advance of at least four of these announcements. The complaint also seeks disgorgement from relief defendants Mahendar and Sharda Sekhri, Arjun Sekhri's parents, of assets transferred to them by the defendants.
Without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, Dow, Cochrane, and Thifault previously settled the SEC's insider trading charges by consenting to the entry of final judgments requiring, among other things, payment of almost $2 million. In addition, Dow, Cochrane, and Thifault previously pled guilty to criminal charges of insider trading. Dow was sentenced to two years imprisonment and ordered to pay $469,595 in restitution. Thifault was sentenced to five years' probation, to include one year of home confinement. Cochrane is awaiting sentencing.
For more information about this case, please see Litigation Release Nos. 15691 (April 1, 1998), 15965 (October 29, 1998), 16202 (June 30, 1999), 16208 (July 12, 1999), and 16333 (October 14, 1999).