Around 10 years ago a small number of citizen activists began identifying SAC Capital as being a central player in a “network” of hedge funds that engaged in all manner of dubious practices.
The media ignored the citizen activists.
In 2005, Patrick Byrne, then CEO of internet retailer Overstock.com (and future reporter for DeepCapture.com) gave a famous conference call titled “The Miscreants Ball” in which he sought to expose a “network” of miscreant hedge funds. Soon after, Patrick identified SAC Capital as being the central player in that miscreant network.
The media ridiculed Patrick.
In 2007, DeepCapture was founded, and in May 2008, we published “The Story of Deep Capture” to tell the story of how DeepCapture came into being and to expose a pack of prominent journalists who seemed to be doing the bidding for (i.e. they were “captured” by) a “network” of miscreant hedge funds, including SAC Capital.
Since then, DeepCapture has published numerous stories exposing various misdeeds that have been perpetrated by these journalists and hedge funds, including SAC Capital. Some of the journalists ignored us. Some of them ridiculed us. Some of them, such as the eminently corrupt Gary Weiss, ridiculed us and fought us at the same time.
Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.
Then the news broke (this week) that SAC founder Steve Cohen has received a subpoena to appear before a grand jury, possibly a prelude to an indictment of Cohen and/or his hedge fund. In addition, the media has reported that SAC Capital is the main target of the largest insider trading investigation in FBI history, and the media has even reported (at long last and accurately) that SAC Capital is part of a larger “network” of financial operators and hedge funds involved in insider trading. So, apparently, we win.
But we have not won.
We will not have won until the day when the media reports that SAC Capital and other hedge funds in its “network” are involved in activities that are more damaging to the markets than mere insider trading. For example, some of the creditors to Lehman Brothers have sued SAC Capital and two other hedge funds for allegedly perpetrating manipulative short selling that triggered the 2008 death spiral in the stock price of Lehman Brothers and the resulting collapse of that bank.
You will recall that the collapse of Lehman Brothers brought the global financial system to the brink of apocalyptic ruin.
It is not clear what the status of that lawsuit is, so we cannot yet say with certainty that SAC Capital was the culprit behind the manipulative short selling that contributed (as even the SEC noted in 2008 “Emergency Order”) to the collapse of Lehman, but there is little doubt that hedge funds in the “network” have schemed to destroy other important companies. Have a read, for example, of the following email.
= = = = =Begin Message= = = = =
Message # : 727
Message Sent: 02/22/2006 08:57:48
From: AHELLER3@bloomberg.net|ANDY HELLER|EXIS CAPITAL MANAGEM
To: JONKALIKOW@bloomberg.net|JONATHAN KALIKOW|STANFIELD CAPITAL
Subject: CNBC – FAIRFAX
He did this one time before, and the stock went down 3 on the open, then closed up 1. the way to get this thing down is to get them where they eat, like the credit analysts and holders. we’re taking this baby down for the count. ads and I are going to toronto in 2 weeks for a group lunch. J
= = = = =End Message= = = = =
That email was authored by a top employee of Exis Capital, which is an offshoot of SAC Capital, and as you can see, it concerns a conspiracy to take “this baby down for the count.” The “ads” to attend the “group lunch” was former SAC trader Adam D. Sender, head of Exis. The “baby” to be taken “down for the count” (unsuccessfully, in the end) was Fairfax Financial, a major, publicly listed insurance and financial firm.
The emails were acquired through discovery in Fairfax’s lawsuit against a group of hedge funds, one of which was SAC Capital. Although SAC Capital was ultimately dropped from the lawsuit, SAC’s satellite funds (including Exis and an outfit called Sigma Capital) were not dropped from the suit, which is ongoing. And the discovery from that lawsuit has produced additional evidence of shenanigans at SAC Capital. See, for example, DeepCapture stories “Hedge Funds Reading Tomorrow’s Headlines Today,” and “Hedge Funds Scurry…”
It is important for the media to begin paying attention to SAC Capital’s more egregious behavior because far too many people believe that SAC has done no worse than engage in a bit of insider trading, and a lot of people regard insider trading as nothing worse than “good research.” In addition, failing to tell the full story ensures that history will repeat.
Back in 1991, when Michael Milken was sentenced to prison, the media reported that Milken’s principal crime was insider trading when, in fact, he and others in his “network” had also “busted out” (i.e. looted and destroyed) multiple savings and loan banks, some of them among the most important financial institutions in the nation. Those “bust-outs” contributed to the savings and loan crisis that began in the late 1980s, and which ultimately cost American tax-payers billions of dollars in bailouts—a portent of bigger and better things to come.