Billionaire hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman lambasted regulators as “abusive” after he settled his insider trading case with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month.
The founder of Omega Advisors told CNBC Tuesday that he would have won had the case gone to trial, but that he was advised to settle because the trial would have cost him $15 to $20 million and last two to three years. Instead, he agreed to pay a $4.9 million fine.
“My lawyers told me the probability of my winning would be overwhelmingly high,” Cooperman said. “The process in my opinion was totally abusive and this is a problem that the government should address.”
Cooperman said he turned down a first settlement offer, which would have forced him to pay a $9 million fine and agree to a five-year ban from the securities industry.
He said he reconsidered his unwillingness to accept a settlement offer many months later, when the SEC — now under the control of President Donald Trump appointee Jay Clayton — offered a new deal: a smaller fine, no admission of wrongdoing and no impact on his ability to keep running his hedge fund.
Cooperman wished Clayton well on his new appointment as SEC chief.