Two Individuals Admit Conspiring with Convicted Ponzi Schemer and Others to Defraud Investors of Tens of Millions of Dollars
TRENTON, N.J. – A Virginia man who previously pleaded guilty to insider trading admitted engaging in another insider trading scheme that netted millions of dollars in illegal profits, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
Sean Wygovsky, 42, of Centreville, Virginia, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Georgette Castner on May 25, 2023, to an information charging him one count of securities fraud/insider trading. Wygovsky previously pleaded guilty to an insider trading scheme in the Southern District of New York.
“This defendant admitted using nonpublic information from his job at an asset management firm to further a multimillion-dollar insider trading scheme,” U.S. Attorney Sellinger said. “Combatting securities fraud and market manipulation schemes is a top priority for this Office. This prosecution demonstrates our commitment to holding accountable those who seek to undermine our markets through insider trading.”
“Federal insider trading laws protect the integrity of the markets and preserve the public's confidence in them,” FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy said. “No one wants to play a game when the rules are unfair. Wygovsky upset this balance of fairness when he misused his position of authority to serve his own greed. The FBI is committed to weeding out the bad actors like Wygovsky to ensure the financial markets maintain equal opportunity for all.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From May 2020 through February 2021, Wygovsky worked as a portfolio manager, securities analyst, and trader at a Canada-based asset management firm that received material, nonpublic information regarding confidential merger negotiations involving special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). Wygovsky received this information every time a SPAC was placed on his firm’s confidential restricted list, meaning that the firm’s employees were prohibited from buying or selling the SPACs’ securities, either personally or via another person or third party. Despite knowing about these trading restrictions, Wygovsky shared the nonpublic information with his friend, Christopher Matthaei, who was a partner at a New Jersey broker-dealer firm. Matthaei purchased securities in the SPACs using his personal brokerage accounts. In June 2020, Matthaei paid for a private plane and extended trip with Wygovsky and their families to a luxury resort on the island of St. Barth, where they continued to engage in the insider trading scheme. Matthaei made approximately $3.4 million in illegal trading profits from the insider trading scheme.
Matthaei was previously arrested on March 30, 2023, and charged by complaint with one count of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. The charges and allegations against Matthaei contained in the complaint, which are still pending, are merely accusations, and Matthaei is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The securities fraud count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 27, 2023.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Dennehy, with the investigation leading to the guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Kozar and Marko Pesce of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.