Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOHN AFRIYIE, a former analyst at the Manhattan-based private investment fund (the “Fund”) was found guilty this afternoon in Manhattan federal court of securities fraud and wire fraud for committing insider trading.
AFRIYIE made approximately $1.5 million in profits in connection with stock options he purchased based on material nonpublic information he misappropriated from the Fund about an impending acquisition of ADT Corporation (“ADT”).
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As a unanimous jury found today, John Afriyie, an investment fund analyst, made $1.5 million in illegal profits by trading in ADT stock, using inside information about ADT that he had obtained from the fund’s servers. To cover up his insider trading scheme, Afriyie destroyed incriminating emails and even claimed his own voice on a recorded call to his broker was actually his mother’s. The jury saw through Afriyie’s deception, and he now stands convicted of federal crimes.”
According to the Indictment other filings in Manhattan federal court and the evidence presented at trial:
In January 2016, Apollo Investment Management LLC (“Apollo”) contacted the Fund to discuss whether the Fund would provide debt financing for Apollo’s potential acquisition of ADT. The Fund entered into a non-disclosure agreement with Apollo and was granted access to confidential documents related to the ADT transaction. As an investment analyst at the Fund, AFRIYIE had access to the Fund’s network server, which maintained, among other things, electronic shared directory file folders containing material nonpublic information, including information about Apollo’s acquisition of ADT.
In violation of the Fund’s policies and in breach of his duties to the Fund, AFRIYIE repeatedly accessed material nonpublic information about Apollo’s pending acquisition of ADT in an electronic shared drive folder on the Fund’s network server. In approximately 28 separate transactions between January 28, 2016, and February 12, 2016, AFRIYIE purchased approximately 2,279 ADT call options for a total of $24,254.02 before the public announcement of that transaction. AFRIYIE purchased the ADT call options through a brokerage account in the name of AFRIYIE’s mother, which AFRIYIE controlled. AFRIYIE did not reveal his trades or the existence of the brokerage account to the Fund. As cover for his criminal scheme, AFRIYIE repeatedly pretended to be his mother in recorded telephone calls with his broker.
The public announcement of Apollo’s acquisition of ADT in February 2016 caused ADT shares to increase in value from $29.20 per share on the day AFRIYIE began purchasing ADT options to $39.64 per share, resulting in a corresponding increase in the value of the call options AFRIYIE had purchased. Upon subsequently selling the ADT options, AFRIYIE generated over $1.5 million in illicit profits.
In connection with his arrest, AFRIYIE lied to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) about his ADT options trades and falsely claimed that his own voice on a recorded call with his broker was really his mother’s voice. Following his arrest, AFRIYIE also attempted to delete the contents of an email account that he had used to communicate with his broker.
While the guilt phase of the trial has concluded, AFRIYIE has requested a jury determination as to whether certain assets are subject to forfeiture as proceeds of the offenses for which he was found guilty. That forfeiture proceeding remains ongoing and will resume tomorrow.
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AFRIYIE, 29, of Freehold, New Jersey, was convicted of one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud, each of which carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. AFRIYIE was remanded on January 23, 2016, after he refused to appear in court for trial, and he remains in custody. The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and the Office’s Criminal Investigators. He also thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance.
The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward A. Imperatore and Christine I. Magdo are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer L. Gachiri is handling the forfeiture aspects of this prosecution.