Erik Larson and Christian Berthelsen
A Goldman Sachs Group vice president gambled his career on a series of trades using inside information about the bank’s clients, US authorities alleged, including one that netted him $US362 ($478).
Woojae “Steve” Jung used non-public information about deals involving a dozen customers, according to records unsealed Thursday in federal court in Manhattan. In total, Jung is accused of making $US140,000 in illegal profits by trading through an alias brokerage account tied to a friend in South Korea.
Jung, a South Korean citizen working at Goldman Sachs’s new laid-back San Francisco office, was charged with one count of conspiracy and six counts of securities fraud for running the alleged scam from 2015 to 2017.
“We are aware of the situation regarding Mr Jung and are cooperating with legal authorities,” Goldman Sachs said in an emailed statement.
The New York-based bank isn’t identified in the complaint, but Jung’s LinkedIn page says he started working at Goldman Sachs in 2012 after graduating from Wharton Business School. Jung didn’t immediately respond to a message sent through the social-media network. He doesn’t have a lawyer listed on the court docket. He was scheduled to appear later on Thursday in federal court in California.
Jung, 37, allegedly tried to cover his tracks by purchasing the securities in a brokerage account held in the name of a friend living in South Korea, according to a parallel suit filed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
The trades allegedly involved companies including New York-based software maker CA , the Dutch technology firm NXP Semiconductors and FEI Co, a supplier of scientific instruments for nanoscale applications based in Hillsboro, Oregon, according to the complaint.
Information at work
Jung got inside information about business transactions involving the companies through his regular work, as well as by accessing the bank’s files and communicating with colleagues working on deals, the US said. According to his LinkedIn page, Jung focused on technology, media and telecommunications sectors.
He was promoted from associate to vice president, and moved from New York to San Francisco in July 2015, according to his LinkedIn page.
Federal prosecutors listed examples of the trades that highlighted Jung’s early access to crucial insider information and the relatively small profits he made from his elaborate efforts.
In one case, on March 12, 2015, Jung learned about Murray Energy Corp’s potential acquisition of a majority stake in Foresight Energy, the US said. The next day, Jung’s alias brokerage account bought 400 shares of Foresight stock. On March 15, when the deal was announced publicly, Foresight Energy shares rose 12 per cent. When the shares were sold five days later, Jung allegedly reaped a profit of $US362.
According to the complaint, Jung initially appeared to comply with Goldman Sachs’s internal policies by closing his Interactive Brokers account when he started working at the bank and opening a bank-approved account at Fidelity Brokerage Services instead. That allowed Goldman Sachs to keep track of Jung’s trading to ensure it wasn’t improper, the US said.
But Jung secretly opened a new Interactive Brokers account under the name of a school friend in South Korea, the US said.
Jung “left his electronic fingertips” on that account, accessing it more than 600 times and using it to make illegal trades, the US said. The access logs for the account led to three of Jung’s Internet subscriber IP addresses, according to the suit.
Finally, in July 2016, an attempt was made to transfer $US5600 out of the account, according to the suit. Interactive Brokers rejected the request as improper, leading to a phone call from someone claiming to be the South Korean friend, the US said. The call was placed from a mobile phone registered to Jung, according to the suit.