The Work

December 17, 2009 4:49 PM

Foley, Farella Defending Latest Batch of Insider Trading Defendants

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: Dec. 21, 9:15 a.m. The Am Law Daily has learned that Anjelica Leon from Beverly Hills Law Associates is representing Sameer Khoury and his brother, Elias, in the SEC's insider-trading case.

The SEC unveiled civil charges Tuesday against four men--including a former investment banker at Lazard, and an ex-associate at private equity firm TPG Capital--who allegedly participated in a $500,000 insider-trading scheme. And, as you might expect, it didn't take long for this latest batch of insider trading defendants to call their lawyers.

Pamela Johnston, chair of the white-collar practice at Foley & Lardner, is representing former TPG employee Vinayak Gowrish. Johnston is a former assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, having served as chief of the office's major frauds section in the criminal division before joining Foley in September 2005.

Ex-Lazard vice president Adnan Zaman, meanwhile, has turned to Farella Braun + Martel white-collar and corporate investigations chair William Keane for counsel. Keane, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, recently defended track-and-field coach Trevor Graham on criminal charges arising out of the BALCO investigation.

According to the SEC's complaint, Gowrish and Zaman are former University of California, Berkeley, fraternity brothers who stole stock tips and passed them on to two friends, Pascal Vaghar and Sameer Khoury.

Zaman, Vaghar, and Khoury have all agreed to settle their cases with the SEC and disgorge profits from their trades, according to the agency. Calls to two SEC lawyers requesting information about who advised Vaghar and Khoury in the matter were not immediately returned.

The insider trading charges are merely the latest filed by regulators in recent weeks, which have already ensnared two former Ropes & Gray associates, among others.

Such cases aren't necessarily a slam dunk for federal prosecutors and SEC lawyers. The Wall Street Journal's Peter Lattman reports today on the case of former Blackstone Group banker Ramesh Chakrapani, who was arrested earlier this year after he was suspected of trading on inside information. (Click here for a brief history of private equity and insider trading, courtesy of the WSJ.)

In April the Justice Department dropped criminal charges against Chakrapani, and last month the SEC filed papers seeking to dismiss its civil case. But both did so "without prejudice," which allows the same charges to be refiled at a later date, Lattman reports.

That leaves Chakrapani in a sort of legal limbo--Lattman notes the former Blackstone banker now lives out of his parents' house in suburban Los Angeles, where he reads books and volunteers at a local church.

Chakrapani continues to be represented by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner Michael Sommer, who joined the firm last year from McDermott Will & Emery.

"We're frustrated that the SEC, after having leveled its accusations nearly a year ago, continues to take steps to deny Ramesh his day in court," Sommer told Lattman. "He is in total limbo."

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