Mathew Martoma, an Indian-origin hedge fund portfolio manager has pleaded not guilty to charges that he participated in one of the “most lucrative” insider trading schemes in the US, totalling a whopping $276 million.

“I plead not guilty, your honour,” Martoma, 38, said calmly to each of three counts that US District Judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan read to him yesterday.

He entered a not guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of securities fraud.

Federal prosecutors have accused Martoma of using material, non-public information that he received from a doctor in 2008 on the clinical trial of an Alzheimer’s disease drug to make profits and avoid losses for SAC Capital Advisors in an amount totalling approximately $276 million.

Martoma is the son of Indian immigrants and was accompanied by his wife and parents during his hearing. He faces as many as 20 years in prison on the securities fraud charges and five years on the conspiracy charge if convicted.

He was arrested in November from his home in Boca Raton, Florida and has been free on a $5 million bail.

According to court records, he would continue to remain free on bond.

Martoma was flanked by his lawyers Charles Stillman and Nathaniel Marmur during his arraignment. His next court appearance has been set for March 5. Stillman said he is not discussing any plea deal with the government and maintained that his client is innocent.

“The answer is no,” Stillman said on whether he was negotiating a plea agreement.

The defence team is “doing what is necessary for getting a happy ending for Mathew,” he said, adding, “Mathew Martoma is an innocent man.”

A Stanford graduate, Martoma joined SAC Capital Advisors in 2006 and had worked with the firm’s affiliate CR Intrinsic Investors.

Martoma and his hedge fund benefited from what might be the most lucrative inside tip of all time, prosecutors alleged.

(This article was published on January 4, 2013)
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