The pressure is mounting on hedge fund titan Steve Cohen.
With the passing of each day, it must be increasingly tougher for Cohen to enjoy his fancy new toys, including that $60-million beachfront estate in the Hamptons and the $100-million Picasso.
The Feds must indict Cohen by mid-July or pass up a chance to land this era's Ivan Boesky, and a federal appeals court must decide whether to bless SAC's $616-million settlement with the SEC.
Time is inexorably squeezing Cohen.
Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that it was widely expected Cohen's remaining outside investors would pull their money out of Cohen's two giant SAC hedge funds. Cohen started the year with $15 billion in assets. If investors like Wall Street's Blackstone Group and Ironwood Capital make their anticipated withdrawals, SAC is expected to lose about one-third of its assets, according to the Journal. And the lion's share of what remains -- roughly $9 billion -- is Cohen's personal wealth.
Cohen is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the hedge fund business, and has an estimated net worth of $9.3 billion. For the past 20 years, he has posted eye-popping returns of close to 30% on average.
But the tide has turned on the titan. As the New York Times' Peter Lattman wrote on Tuesday, "Investors are fleeing during the continuous government inquiries into insider trading at SAC."
Senior SAC executives have received grand jury subpoenas, and SAC recently told investors it was no longer fully cooperating with the Department of Justice. "That announcement heightened investors' concerns, leading to an increase in withdrawal requests," Lattman wrote. Nine former SAC employees have been tied to insider trading, and four of them have pleaded guilty.
Most critically, as James Stewart deftly observed in this week's New York Times, indicted SAC trader Mathew Martoma must decide whether to rat out Cohen and save his skin or face years of hard time in the pen.
Stewart wrote: "The government has already convicted 73 people in the last three years in an insider trading crackdown that in its sweep and impact have been without precedent on Wall Street."
What the government has lacked so far, Stewart noted, is a star to put a face to the egregious hedge fund scandal. And prosecutors always want to remind the public of their work. "Cohen could be the marquee name that would lend the investigation a new level of public awareness and potential deterrence," Stewart observed.
Insider trading hurts mom-and-pop investors because it rigs the stock market in favor of the rich and powerful. But, as philosophers have noted across the ages, time waits for no one, no matter how weak or powerful, no matter how rich or poor.
Steve Cohen is merely the latest titan to learn that lesson.
Disclaimer: Zamansky & Associates is a New York law firm which represents investors in court and arbitration cases against securities brokerage firms and issuers. The firm may represent investors in cases against companies mentioned in this blog.