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Steven Cohen Writes a Big Check to the U.S. Government

Steven A. Cohen proved to be a stickler for the letter of the law when it came to paying the criminal penalty imposed on his former hedge fund as part of its guilty plea on insider trading charges.

On April 10, Judge Laura Taylor Swain of Federal District Court in Manhattan gave Mr. Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors up to 90 days to pay the $900 million penalty, part of an overall $1.2 billion criminal settlement reached with prosecutors last November. On Tuesday, the 90th day since Judge Swain accepted the firm's guilty plea, Mr. Cohen's firm made that payment in four installments, according to court records.

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Steven A. Cohen
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Steven A. Cohen

The 90-day window to pay the penalty portion of the settlement with Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for Manhattan, was three times the 30-day recommendation by the court's probation department. But it is was the deadline that lawyers for SAC and federal prosecutors agreed to in November, when the hedge fund entered its guilty plea.

The extra two months to pay the criminal penalty gave Mr. Cohen's newly christened family office, Point72 Asset Management, more flexibility to deploy capital to the roughly 80 portfolio managers and trading teams that remain with his firm. Just days before SAC's guilty plea was accepted by Judge Swain, Mr. Cohen rebranded the firm, which he founded in 1992 with just $25 million, as Point72 — a reference to the address for its main office at 72 Cummings Point Road in Stamford, Conn.

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Mr. Cohen's family office, with more than 800 employees, remains a force on Wall Street, trading as much as $10 billion of Mr. Cohen's personal wealth. Last year, just before federal prosecutors indicted SAC on insider trading charges, the hedge fund had managed about $14 billion in assets — including roughly $5 billion in money from outside investors.

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As part of the guilty plea, Mr. Cohen agreed that his firm would no longer manage money for outside investors, which required that it reconfigure itself as a family office. When it was a hedge fund, SAC was one of Wall Street's most profitable firms and charged some of the highest fees in the $3 trillion hedge fund industry.

Mr. Cohen's firm, as part of the plea deal, also agreed to forfeit $900 million to the federal government, including an earlier $616 million civil penalty negotiated under a related civil settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The bulk of that civil settlement and forfeiture is expected to be paid next month, which would complete all of the firm's payments to the government.

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As for Mr. Cohen, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing by prosecutors, he must still deal with an administrative failure to supervise action filed by the S.E.C. That action, which could result in his being barred from working in the securities industry, remains on hold at the request of federal prosecutors.

Photo: Bryce Duffy|Stone Sub|Getty Images

—By Matthew Goldstein, The New York Times

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