Swiss Trader at Center of Insider Ring Gets No More Jail Time
(Bloomberg) -- A former Swiss trader who admitted making $70 million from an international ring that traded on tips stolen by bankers won’t serve any additional time in prison because he cooperated with prosecutors.
Marc Demane Debih was at the center of an insider-trading ring that profited from illegal tips about company earnings and acquisitions. He helped bring down a ring that operated in the U.S., U.K., France, Switzerland, Greece, Israel, and Hong Kong.
Information he provided prosecutors helped them win three convictions, including that of Bryan Cohen, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker, who pleaded guilty in January 2020 to passing tips about deals involving Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. and Syngenta AG to Demane Debih. Cohen was sentenced to a year of home confinement.
“Mr. Debih engaged in this egregious conduct for years and on a grand scale,” U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said near the end of a video hearing in federal court in Manhattan on Friday. But the judge also pointed to Demane Debih’s cooperation and the 15 months he spent in Serbian and U.S. jails after his arrest in October 2018.
Prosecutors recommended leniency to the judge, who agreed.
“He cooperated fully and completely, as soon as he learned of the charges against him,” Cote said in sentencing Demane Debih to time served.
Demane Debih was arrested in Serbia, then secretly held in what his lawyers said was a cold and dirty Belgrade jail, where he was forced to share a 400 square-foot cell with nine other inmates who smoked constantly. After extradition from Serbia, he was confined in the federal lockup in Manhattan -- now closed to address substandard conditions -- where Jeffrey Epstein later killed himself to avoid trial on charges he trafficked teenage girls for sex.
Demane Debih pleaded guilty in October 2019 to 38 criminal counts in a hearing in New York that was closed to the public.
He said he used some of the money he made to pay off others in the ring, including more than $12 million to John Dodelande, a French art collector, who in turn passed tips to Demane Debih, according to court papers. Dodelande hasn’t been charged and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Demane Debih was the star government witness in the January 2020 trial of Telemaque Lavidas, who was convicted of passing confidential information from Boston-based Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc., where his father was a director.
Demane Debih told jurors that he tapped a safe full of cash to pay off corrupt stock tipsters, used phony invoices for artwork sales to mask some payments and communicated with co-conspirators using prepaid “burner phones.” He also admitted stealing information from his banker girlfriend, planting stories with journalists and disguising illegal trades by using third parties to make share purchases.
Lavidas was convicted and sentenced by Cote to a year and a day in prison in July 2020.
Demane Debih also helped lead prosecutors to Dov Malnik and his business partner, Tomer Feingold, Israeli citizens who lived in Geneva. The two men were charged with crimes including conspiracy and securities fraud in a sealed federal indictment that was made public in June. Malnik pleaded guilty in June and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Feingold is a fugitive, according to prosecutors.
Several of the people who allegedly participated in the ring remain uncharged or beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement. Darina Windsor, a former investment banker at Centerview Partners, and Benjamin Taylor, who worked at Moelis & Co., are charged with passing tips from their work to Dodelande. The two, who shared a London apartment, have not been arrested by U.S. authorities.
Also charged but not in custody is Georgios Nikas, a Greek businessman who owned restaurants in New York, and allegedly traded on tips from his friend, Lavidas.
Demane Debih began trading on inside information in 2012. He said he stopped in 2017, a year before his arrest in Serbia, when the birth of his first daughter gave him the “moral clarity” he needed to quit.
“I’m grateful that the government has allowed me to make this right by cooperating,” Demane Debih told the judge.
The case is U.S. v. Demane Debih, 18-cr-184, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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