SEC Charges Former Pharma Executive and Others with Insider Trading

Litigation Release No. 24245 / August 23, 2018

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Fishoff, et al., No. 18-CIV-685 (S.D.N.Y. filed August 23, 2018)

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a former Sangamo BioSciences Inc. executive and others with participating in a scheme that generated $1.5 million of illegal profits on insider trading ahead of the announcement of a licensing agreement between Sangamo and Biogen Idec Inc., another large pharmaceutical company.

In its complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, the SEC alleges that late in 2013, Winson Tang, then a Vice President of Clinical Research for Sangamo, tipped his close friend and business associate Deshan Govender about the agreement, knowing that Govender was in the business of selling non-public information to traders. According to the complaint, Govender tipped former day trader Steven Fishoff and others in Fishoff's insider-trading ring who purchased stock and options and made $1.5 million in illegal profits when the licensing agreement was announced in January 2014, causing Sangamo's stock price to jump 38 percent.

The SEC's complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, charges Fishoff, Tang, and Govender with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The SEC seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, prejudgment interest, penalties, and injunctive relief.  In parallel actions in 2015 and 2017, the SEC and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey charged Fishoff and four members of his group - Paul Petrello, Ronald Chernin, Steven Costantin and Joseph Spera - with illegal insider trading ahead of secondary public stock offerings. All five defendants have pled guilty to the parallel criminal charges and Petrello, Chernin, Costantin, and Spera have agreed to partial settlements with the SEC for conduct including their trading on the Sangamo-Biogen license agreement, with potential monetary sanctions to be determined at a later date. The SEC's previous action against Fishoff for alleged insider trading ahead of the secondary stock offerings is continuing.

The SEC's investigation was conducted by David Austin, Chevon Walker, Matthew Lambert, Stephen Johnson and George Stepaniuk. The litigation is led by Todd Brody and the case is being supervised by Sanjay Wadhwa. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and the Options Regulatory Surveillance Authority.