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Former New York fund analyst convicted of insider trading
[NEW YORK] A former analyst at Michael Dell's New York-based investment fund was convicted of insider trading on Monday, just a week after he was arrested for refusing to come to court to face trial.
John Afriyie, 29, was found guilty by a federal jury in Manhattan of securities fraud and wire fraud for misusing secret information about a deal that MSD Capital, named for the Dell Inc founder, was considering financing.
Jurors immediately began hearing additional evidence to decide whether Afriyie should forfeit about US$2.6 million, money that prosecutors said he made through insider trading and re-investing his over US$1.5 million in illegal profits.
Lawyers for Afriyie were not immediately available to comment.
The trial was the latest to spill out of a wave of insider trading cases by Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara's office, which has secured 85 individuals' convictions since 2009.
Prosecutors said that in early 2016, Afriyie learned about Apollo Global Management LLC's planned US$7 billion deal to buy security company ADT Corp after the private equity firm approached MSD about providing financing.
After MSD employees were emailed about a restriction imposed on trading in ADT stock, Afriyie accessed a shared folder on MSD's network server to learn about Apollo's pending deal, prosecutors said.
He then bought ADT call options for US$24,254 through a brokerage account in his mother's name, enabling him to earn more than US$1.5 million when the deal was announced, prosecutors said.
Afriyie denied wrongdoing. Defence attorney Ezra Spilke told jurors on Monday that the purported ADT inside information had become stale due to new developments and his trades amounted to betting.
"These are lottery tickets," Mr Spilke said in his closing argument.
The trial began a day later than planned, after Afriyie on Jan 23 refused to come to court, prompting the US Marshals Service to arrest him at a hotel in East Windsor, New Jersey.
Mr Spilke called Afriyie's absence a "misguided attempt to fire his counsel", but US District Judge Paul Engelmayer determined Afriyie had given "willfully untrue" reasons for not attending court. The judge revoked Afriyie's bail as a result of his absence.
Defence lawyers soon after asked Judge Engelmayer for a psychiatric evaluation of Afriyie, saying in a court filing that Afriyie had been showing an "absence of rational thinking". Judge Engelmayer denied the request.
The case is US v Afriyie, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No 16-cr-337.