Tavakoli Structured Finance LLC

The Financial Report

By Janet Tavakoli

Aces and Eights for Stevie Cohen?

Steven Cohen, founder of  SAC Capital Advisors LP, may have to defend his firm against criminal charges to be filed later this week, according to the Wall Street Journal. He runs the most successful equity trading firm in the history of hedge funds. At the start of this year he had $15 billion under management and charged his investors 3-and-50 instead of the usual hedge fund gouge of 2-and-20. Questions have swirled around Cohen for years.

In November, 2003, the Wall Street Journal labeled Cohen, then 47 years-old with only $4 billion under management, a “hypertrader.” At the time his fund gained 40% per year on average, despite his stratospheric performance fees.

His influence stemmed from his reported boast of paying the highest commissions on Wall Street. Naturally that means he wants “first call” on information. Now the S.E.C. is finally catching up with some questions of its own and asking if Cohen had insider information, as some of his former portfolio managers were alleged to have had.

As I mentioned in October 2012, Cohen’s defense will probably be that he is a “genius”:

Steven Cohen’s Defense: I’m a Genius! (satirical press release)

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn some of my managers used insider information when trading at SAC Capital Advisors LP!

I suspected it was happening at many of my competitors’ hedge funds. Why? It’s because I’m a genius, and they’re not! Other hedge fund managers apparently think they can achieve my consistent double digit returns when U.S. Treasuries are paying a pittance just because they are taller, or fatter, or better looking than I. But they can’t, because I’m a genius! When they outperform, it’s because they relied on insider information passed on from an analyst they hired from an investment bank or otherwise illegally obtained insider information. When I consistently outperform, it’s because I’m a genius!

How did I not know allegedly illegally obtained insider information was used by managers at my own fund? Same reason; it’s because I’m a genius. If you don’t get it, it’s because you’re not a genius. But don’t worry. I’ll explain it to you later in this press release.

I’m a Stand-Up Guy!

The wonderfulness of me has caused reporters like Patricia Hurtado and Saijel Kishan at Bloomberg News to write some horrible things about the way some of my managers achieved their high returns. Everyone is jealous of my success! But even they had to admit that I’m a fabulously generous guy.

They quoted Noah Freeman, one of my managers who pleaded guilty to securities fraud and is now cooperating with the FBI, as saying this about some of my firm’s best ideas used for trading in the “Cohen Account”:

“At SAC Capital you were paid a percentage of Cohen’s trade if Cohen placed a trade based on your tip.” (“Ex-SAC Capital Manager Tells FBI Fund Used Insider Data,” October 1, 2012.)

Hey, nobody can say I don’t take care of my people! Of course these have to be the best ideas; my name’s on the account, and I’m a financial genius!

I Couldn’t Have Known

Yes, I know that five of my current or former portfolio managers or analysts are now implicated in the FBI’s insider trading investigation, but no one should draw the conclusion that I knew they used illegally obtained insider information, knew they provided me tips based on insider information, or traded on the basis of this information. I realize that the less mentally gifted may think I should have been suspicious of consistently high performance and how tips seemed to fall from trees, but that’s only because they’re not as smart as I am.

You see, when you’re a genius, you can hire people who aren’t as talented, and your genius rubs off on them, so that all of your fund managers trade as well as you do and produce double digit returns. I like to think of it as the “Cohen Effect.” It appears some of my managers were too impatient to wait for the greatness of me to rub off on them, so they took matters into their own hands in the wrong way, while I was busy managing $14 billion in assets with the help of their tips.

So you see, there was no reason for me to be suspicious — and I haven’t been accused of any wrongdoing, because I’m a genius!

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