By Karen Freifeld
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A hedge fund manager in Moscow claims he never possessed or traded on inside information from an alleged scheme to hack into networks that distribute corporate news releases, according to a court filing late Wednesday.
David Amaryan, 35, was among more than 30 defendants charged by U.S. authorities last month over the alleged theft of more than 150,000 press releases from Business Wire, Marketwired and PR Newswire before the news became public.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said the scheme allegedly resulted in more than $100 million of illegal profit over a roughly five-year period.
"I have never possessed or traded on material, nonpublic information obtained through illicit or unlawful means," Amaryan said in court papers filed in New Jersey federal court. "Nor have I ever directed anyone working for me to obtain or to trade on such information."
Amaryan runs Moscow and London-based investment management firms Copperstone Alpha Fund, Copperstone Capital and Ocean Prime Inc. and Intertrade Pacific SA.
He is seeking dismissal of the civil charges against him and his companies and for the court to free up millions of dollars of frozen assets.
The companies’ trades were based on "sophisticated hedge fund analysis, at times ahead of earnings announcements, and at times losing money,” the court papers say.
A native Armenian who lives in Moscow, Amaryan graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, according to his court filing. He worked in the United States at AllianceBernstein L.P., before moving to Russia in 2003 and working for Citigroup for two years. He is currently on a leave of absence from the MBA program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Two other defendants, Jaspen Capital Partners Ltd and Chief Executive Andriy Supranonok, both from Kiev, Ukraine, agreed to pay $30 million to settle the SEC charges against them, the regulator said on Monday.
Authorities said traders would give hackers "shopping lists" of press releases they wanted to see in advance, and then make trades based on them.
Business Wire is a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, and PR Newswire is a unit of Britain's UBM Plc.
The case is SEC v Dubovoy et al, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 15-06076.
(Reporting By Karen Freifeld; Editing by Andrew Hay)