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Leon Cooperman on insider trading charges: 'We acted appropriately and lawfully'

Leon Cooperman
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Leon Cooperman

Billionaire hedge fund titan Leon Cooperman told CNBC on Tuesday he won't enter a deal with regulators to settle insider trading charges and he insisted he has always followed the law.

In a statement he gave to CNBC before his appearance on "Squawk Box," Cooperman said: "We could have settled this matter with the SEC for an amount that is far less than I donate to charity every year. But I refused to do so because I know that we acted appropriately and lawfully."

The Omega Advisors chairman and CEO also said: "It took me 50 years of very hard work, long hours and playing by the rules to get where I am professionally, and I'm not going to let my legacy be destroyed unfairly."

Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Cooperman of buying into Atlas Pipeline Partners ahead of a deal, allegedly using his status as one of its largest shareholders to acquire nonpublic information about an upcoming transaction.

Cooperman and his Omega Advisors has said they plan to fight the charges.

Here's his entire statement:

I'm here to discuss my views on the market and related topics and not my legal travails, but I would like to first read a brief statement. Omega and I have always followed the law. Anyone who has done their homework would understand that Omega was built on doing detailed fundamental research and complying with the law.

We could have settled this matter with the SEC for an amount that is far less than I donate to charity every year. But I refused to do so because I know that we acted appropriately and lawfully.

I thought about the statement of Robert Harper in 1798, "Millions for defense but not one penny for tribute."

It took me 50 years of very hard work, long hours and playing by the rules to get where I am professionally, and I'm not going to let my legacy be destroyed unfairly. The money is not the issue. As you might know, I've taken the Buffett/Gates Giving Pledge and, with the agreement of my wife and children, I intend to contribute substantially all my financial wealth back to society.

Pablo Picasso once observed that the meaning of life is to find your gift, and the purpose of life is to give it away. Well, this kid from the South Bronx found his gift and is intent on giving it back to society – not to the Government.

The damage to the firm has dramatically impacted the opportunity for professional growth for my 43 partners and associates — outstanding professionals.

I have been gratified by the outpouring of support I have received from my many friends and acquaintances in the business.