Polar Asset Trader Charged With $3.6 Million Fraud Scheme

A trader at Canada’s Polar Asset Management Partners was charged with insider trading by U.S. prosecutors Friday.

Sean Wygovsky, 40, allegedly reaped $3.6 million from January 2015 through April 2021 by stealing confidential information to front-run his Toronto-based firm’s trades. Federal prosecutors in New York said Wygovsky used three close relatives and accounts in their names to conceal his activity. Those relatives kicked back to him at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal trading profits, according to the government.

Wygovsky was arrested Friday morning in Austin, Texas, Manhattan prosecutors said in a statement. He’s being held temporarily without bond. In addition to the criminal charges, Wygovsky faces a civil suit filed Friday by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission based on similar allegations.

Russell Duncan, a lawyer for Wygovsky, said he’ll respond to the charges in court once he has had an opportunity to meet with his client and review the charges.

Wygovsky’s employer was identified only as a large Canadian asset management firm in charging documents, but he has worked at Polar since 2013. The firm, which the U.S. authorities says has around $19 billion under management, didn’t immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Prosecutors say Wygovsky made profits from the predictable, small changes in the price of stocks in the wake of Polar transactions. Wygovsky traded ahead of larger Polar trades in the shares of companies including Carparts.com, Now Inc. and Merit Medical Systems Inc. He made more than 700 illegal trades, according to the government.

Wygovsky has been employed by Polar since 2013, according to the government. He’s charged with securities fraud and wire fraud, both of which carry a maximum of 20 years in prison if he’s convicted.

The cases are: U.S. v. Wygovsky, 21-mag-06663; Securities and Exchange Commission v. Wygovsky, 21-cv-05730, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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