SEC Charges Denver-Area Hedge Fund Manager With Insider Trading

October 21, 2011

The SEC brought additional charges in its insider trading case against Denver-based traders who allegedly traded on confidential information in the securities of Mariner Energy Inc. ahead of the oil and gas company’s $3.9 billion takeover by Apache Corporation in April 2010.

The SEC had alleged that Mariner Energy board member H. Clayton Peterson tipped his son with confidential details about Mariner Energy’s upcoming acquisition. Drew Clayton Peterson, who was a managing director at a Denver-based investment adviser, then used the inside information to purchase Mariner Energy stock for himself and others.

In the amended complaint, the SEC added two more defendants to the case – money manager Drew K. Brownstein who is a longtime friend of Drew Peterson, and the hedge fund advisory firm he controls, Big 5 Asset Management LLC. The SEC alleges that Brownstein traded Mariner Energy securities on the basis of inside information he received from Drew Peterson and reaped illicit profits of more than $5 million combined in his own account, the accounts of his relatives, and the accounts of two hedge funds managed by Big 5.

According to the SEC, Drew Peterson repeatedly tipped Brownstein about the impending acquisition of Mariner Energy as he learned the information from his father. Brownstein caused two Big 5 hedge funds – the Lion Global Fund LLLP and the Lion Global Master Fund Ltd. – to purchase large quantities of Mariner Energy stock and call option contracts on the basis of the inside information. This was the first time that the Big 5 hedge funds had ever traded Mariner Energy stock or options. Brownstein also purchased thousands of shares of Mariner Energy stock and call option contracts for the accounts of his relatives and for his personal brokerage account. In the days following the announcement of the deal, Brownstein liquidated the positions he had accumulated in Mariner Energy securities.

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Enforcement Actions, Investment Advisers