Greek Trader Tries to Duck Insider-Trading Arrest, Shield Assets

(Bloomberg) -- The Greek trader and restaurant owner charged in New York with making millions of dollars as part of an insider-trading ring is trying to protect his assets in the U.S. without risking arrest.

Georgios Nikas, 54, was charged in October with trading shares of at least a dozen companies on illegal tips he got from other members of the ring. He owns a $6 million New York apartment and a chain of Greek restaurants, GRK Fresh Greek, according to prosecutors.

Nikas’s lawyer on Tuesday asked a judge to dismiss claims against him by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which has frozen his assets. The SEC is suing over $2.6 million he allegedly made using illicit tips he got from Bryan Cohen, a Goldman Sachs banker who has pleaded not guilty. But Nikas isn’t responding to criminal charges filed by U.S. prosecutors who say he’s a fugitive from justice.

Nikas’s lawyer, Henry Klingeman, described his client in the court filing Tuesday as “a Greek citizen residing in Greece.” Prosecutors said in a letter last month that Nikas is aware of the charges and “plans to a remain a fugitive in Greece rather than submit to the jurisdiction of the court.”

Klingeman argued that the SEC failed to properly serve Nikas with the complaint, though the agency did email it to him. And he said that Nikas didn’t engage in insider trading.

U.S. law may force Nikas to choose between his stuff and his freedom. The provision called “fugitive disentitlement” permits a judge to bar someone who evades U.S. jurisdiction from using the courts to defend their assets in a related civil proceeding.

Klingeman declined to comment.

The case is SEC v. Cohen, 19-cv-09645, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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