Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman was charged with insider trading by the top U.S. securities regulator on Wednesday, making him the highest-profile target in years in the government’s crackdown on illegal trading at hedge funds.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said Cooperman’s trades earned roughly $4 million after he bought the stock of Atlas Pipeline Partners before it sold a gas processing facility.
“Omega Advisors allegedly accumulated APL securities despite explicitly agreeing not to use the material nonpublic information for trading purposes,” the regulator said. APL was bought by a unit of Targa Resources Corp.
Cooperman was not immediately available for comment. The firm plans to discuss the matters with investors on a conference call later on Wednesday. CNBC reported that Cooperman denied the charges.
Cooperman, 73, has been a prominent supporter of U.S. stocks for years and often appeared on cable television and industry conferences discussing his positions.
His fund managed $5.4 billion.
The move marks the highest-profile charges by the U.S. government since it began cracking down on hedge fund managers who were believed to be relying on illegally obtained information to make trades.
Three years ago, Steven A. Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors pleaded guilty to insider trading but Cohen was personally never charged. (Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn in New York and Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis)