U.S. seeks up to 10 years for Jiau in insider case

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 12, 2011 3:23 PM
U.S. seeks up to 10 years for Jiau in insider case

By Grant McCool

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prosecutors asked a judge on Tuesday to imprison a Taiwan-born former technology company consultant for as long as 8 to 10 years as part of a crackdown on insider trading.

The former consultant, Winifred Jiau, was found guilty by a Manhattan federal jury in June. She was convicted of stealing earnings secrets from two computer chipmakers in a conspiracy with others to sell the information to hedge funds.

Jiau was paid $208,000 over two years by so-called expert network firm Primary Global Research (PGR), according to trial evidence. The 43-year-old businesswoman was the first consultant for firms such as PGR, which match business experts with hedge funds, to go to trial on insider-trading charges.

"A lengthy and substantial sentence within or approaching the applicable guidelines range of 97 to 121 months is needed to deter Jiau, as well as other financial professionals and corporate insiders, from engaging in similar offenses," prosecutors wrote in a memorandum to U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ahead of the September 21 sentencing proceeding.

Rakoff is among those who have criticized the sentencing guidelines as putting too much emphasis on the size of crimes. The U.S. Supreme Court declared the guidelines "advisory" in 2005 to avoid a conflict with the Constitution.

Prosecutors from the office of the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan also wrote that illegal activities like Jiau's "cause the investing public to suspect that Wall Street is rigged and that Wall Street professionals have privileged access to information."

Prosecution evidence of instant messages at the nearly 3-week-long trial showed that Jiau referred to her sources in the finance departments of chipmakers Marvell Technology Group Ltd <MRVL.O> and Nvidia Corp <NVDA.O> as "cooks," to money as "sugar," and to confidential information as "recipes."

Jiau's lawyer, Joanna Hendon, could not immediately be reached for comment. The lawyer has not yet filed papers with her sentencing suggestions.

The case is USA v Winifred Jiau et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 11-00161.

(Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Richard Chang)