Still no settlement between SEC and securities trader George Nikas

Maria Nikolova

George Nikas is charged in connection with an international insider trading scheme, involving Goldman Sachs’ investment banker Bryan Cohen.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and securities trader George Nikas have been engaged in talks regarding settlement, but have not yet reached a settlement in principle. This becomes clear from a Letter filed by the SEC with the New York Southern District Court on August 4, 2020.

The document, seen by FinanceFeeds, includes a request that the Court modify its November 22, 2019 Order Freezing Assets and Granting Other Relief to allow for the marketing and sale of an apartment owned by Nikas in New York. The modification of the Freeze Order is set to serve to preserve the value of the real property for settlement, judgment, or other disposition of this case.

In light of the recent fluctuations in the residential real estate market in Manhattan, the parties agree that it would be prudent for Nikas to sell the apartment so as to preserve the value of the asset, and for the sale proceeds to be placed into an account that would be subject to the Freeze Order.

The parties agree that a modification of the asset freeze order is in the interest of justice, as it serves to preserve the status quo and to eliminate any potential risk that the assets frozen by the Order will lose value while the case is pending.

On October 18, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed an emergency action charging Bryan Cohen and George Nikas in connection with an international insider trading scheme relating to trading in the stock of at least two public companies in advance of news that these companies were acquisition targets. The SEC also obtained an order freezing the trader’s assets.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Bryan Cohen learned nonpublic information about the potential acquisitions through his role as an investment banker based in London and New York. Cohen allegedly shared this information with at least one foreign individual who traded on the information and further tipped it to George Nikas. According to the SEC’s complaint, Nikas used the information to net over $2.6 million in illicit profits resulting from trades in stock, American Depositary Shares, and Contracts for Difference, which were traded or hedged on U.S. exchanges.

On March 25, 2020, the Court entered a final consent judgment against Bryan Cohen. The Court entered a final judgment by consent that enjoins Cohen from violating the antifraud provisions of Section 10(b) and Section 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 and Rule 14e-3 thereunder. The final judgment also orders disgorgement of Cohen’s ill-gotten gains, to be offset by the Order of Forfeiture to be imposed in the parallel criminal case. Cohen also consented to the issuance of an SEC order barring him from the securities industry and from participating in any offering of a penny stock.

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