US Govt pushes for 37 months’ imprisonment sentence for ex-Goldman investment banker

Maria Nikolova

The Government says the substantial term of imprisonment sought for Bryan Cohen is necessary for just punishment, specific and general deterrence, and promoting respect for the law.

The United States Government has recommended a significant prison term sentence for former Goldman Sachs’ investment banker Bryan Cohen. This becomes clear from the sentencing submission filed with the New York Southern District Court earlier this week.

For a number of years, Cohen stole confidential business information that had been entrusted to him, and provided that information to a securities trader, Marc Demane Debih so that Demane could place timely, profitable securities trades based on that information and share those profits with Cohen.

The Government recommends that the Court impose a sentence of 37 months’ imprisonment. This is based on the intentional and continuing nature of Cohen’s offense, the widespread illegal trading occasioned by his repeated breaches, and the defendant’s personal history and characteristics, the Government explains. According to the authorities, this substantial term of imprisonment is necessary to meet the statutory ends of sentencing, including just punishment, specific and general deterrence, and promoting respect for the law.

Between 2010 and 2019, Cohen was employed as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, first as an associate in London, and then as a vice president in New York. During that time, Cohen had access to material non-public information (MNPI) about Goldman’s clients. From at least 2015 through 2017, he repeatedly violated his duties and shared MNPI about a number of Goldman clients with Demane, knowing that Demane intended to use the information to engage in insider trading. In exchange, Demane provided Cohen with a portion of his insider trading profits in cash.

In total, Cohen passed MNPI relating to a number of deals to Demane and Demane provided a substantial amount of cash to Cohen as compensation. In particular, Cohen or Cohen’s brother would pick up the cash in the South of France (where Cohen’s family lived) once the money was brought there by associates of Demane. Demane recalls providing at least approximately $1 million worth of cash to Cohen in this manner. Cohen kept that cash in a safe in his parents’ house in the south of France and used some of the cash to buy real estate. After receiving tips from Cohen, Demane traded in the stock and passed the tips to others to trade including Georgios Nikas. Demane and Nikas also traded on these tips together through an investment fund they owned called “Argo.” Through its investigation, the Government identified two such deals about which Cohen passed MNPI: Syngenta AG and Buffalo Wild Wings.

On October 16, 2019, the grand jury returned an indictment charging Cohen with two counts of conspiracy to commit securities fraud On December 11, 2019, the grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Cohen in five counts of conspiracy and substantive securities fraud and wire fraud for his participation in this scheme. At the defendant’s arraignment on the superseding indictment on December 16, 2019, the Court set this case for trial on February 4, 2020.

On January 7, 2020, Cohen pleaded guilty to count one of the superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit securities fraud pursuant to a plea agreement with the Government. The Court accepted the defendant’s plea on January 28.

Sentencing was initially set for April 3, 2020. Given the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the sentencing was adjourned to May 28, and then to June 4, 2020, and is scheduled to proceed by video.

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