Billionaire Leon Cooperman and his Omega Advisors hedge fund were charged Wednesday with insider trading, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced.
The SEC accused Cooperman of buying into Atlas Pipeline Partners ahead of a deal, using his status as one of its largest shareholders to acquire nonpublic information about an upcoming transaction.
"We allege that hedge fund manager Cooperman, who as a large APL shareholder obtained access to confidential corporate information, abused that access by trading on this information," said Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement. "By doing so, he allegedly undermined the public confidence in the securities markets and took advantage of other investors who did not have this information."
In a statement to CNBC, Cooperman said the charges are "without merit" and he plans to fight them.
According to the civil complaint, 73-year-old Cooperman generated illegal profits in 2010 after an unnamed Atlas Pipeline Partners executive provided him confidential information. When Atlas struck a deal to sell its Elk City, Oklahoma, operating facilities, its shares' value increased by more than 30 percent.