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Press Release

Visiting Brazilian Attorney Sentenced to Prison in Insider Trading

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Defendant Accessed Internal Firm Files in Advance of Public Market-Moving Announcements

            WASHINGTON – Romero Cabral Da Costa Neto (Costa), 33, of Rio de Janeiro, was sentenced today to two months in prison for unlawfully trading on material, nonpublic information, announced U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves and Acting Special Agent in Charge David Geist, of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal and Cyber Division.

            In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols ordered Costa to forfeit $42,649.13 and a $100 fine. Costa pleaded guilty November 1 in U.S. District Court to a charge of insider trading.

            Costa had been residing and working as a visiting attorney in Washington D.C., on a one-year J-1 Visa, at a global U.S. law firm (the Law Firm).

            According to court documents, Costa began working at the Law Firm in September 2022. Until the FBI arrested him in August 2023, Costa used his position at the firm to access privileged and confidential client files on the Law Firm’s internal file management system and systematically perform keyword searches on this Law Firm database to explore client files in search of valuable material non-public information that he could exploit for financial gain.

            Costa traded on material non-public information from law firm clients in advance of an $1.7 billion international BioPharma merger, a $5.7 billion oilfield merger, and a major drug trial announcement. In one of his trades, Costa pocketed a quick financial gain of $8,500; in another he reaped $42,649.13.

            This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Rosenberg, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. In particular, valuable assistance was provided by the Philadelphia Regional Enforcement office of the SEC, which promptly identified the offense conduct, enabling swift enforcement action.

Updated December 20, 2023

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-758