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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 6, 2020

Entrepreneur And Pharmaceutical Company Executive Sentenced For Role In International Insider Trading Scheme

Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that TELEMAQUE LAVIDAS, an entrepreneur and pharmaceutical company executive, was sentenced on July 2 to one year and one day in prison for his role in an international insider trading scheme.  LAVIDAS was convicted after trial in January 2020 of insider trading offenses for stealing inside information that he obtained from his father, a member of the board of directors of a pharmaceutical company, and illegally tipping his close friend and co-defendant Georgios Nikas with that inside information.  The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge Denise Cote.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “Telemaque Lavidas was the pipeline for material nonpublic information he illegally relayed from his father to his friend, a scheme that earned its participants more than $15 million in illicit profits.”   

According to the Superseding Indictment, evidence presented at trial, statements made in open court, and court filings:           

By 2013, Athanase Lavidas, the father of TELEMAQUE LAVIDAS, was a prominent Greek businessman and was a member of the board of directors of Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Ariad”), a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that developed and marketed a leukemia medication named Iclusig.  In violation of his duties of confidentiality to Ariad, Athanase Lavidas provided TELEMAQUE LAVIDAS with tips about three major corporate developments at Ariad.  On each of those occasions, TELEMAQUE LAVIDAS provided that inside information to his close friend Georgios Nikas so that Nikas could make timely, profitable trades ahead of Ariad’s public announcements.

The first tip was in October 2013, when Athanase Lavidas learned that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) was concerned about adverse health issues for patients using a newly approved cancer drug called Iclusig.  Athanase Lavidas contacted TELEMAQUE LAVIDAS to pass this secret information, and TELEMAQUE LAVIDAS passed that tip to Georgios Nikas, who had previously amassed a large long position in Ariad securities.  After receiving the inside information from TELEMAQUE LAVIDAS, Nikas sold his Ariad securities and took a substantial short position.  When Ariad publicly announced the patient safety issues, its stock declined by over 65% and Nikas made over $3.2 million in profits and avoided almost $800,000 in losses.  Ariad discontinued sales of Iclusig later in October.

The second tip was in November and December 2013, when Athanase Lavidas learned that Ariad and the FDA were making significant progress toward returning Iclusig to the market.  Athanase Lavidas passed this secret information to TELEMAQUE LAVIDAS, who in turn passed the tips to Georgios Nikas.  Nikas bought Ariad securities based on these tips, and when Ariad publicly announced at the end of December that Iclusig was returning to the market, its stock rose and Nikas made over $1.3 million in profits.

The third tip was in July and August 2015, when Ariad received an unsolicited takeover offer from another pharmaceutical company.  Again, Athanase Lavidas learned of the offer in his capacity as a board member, and informed TELEMAQUE LAVIDAS, who in turn passed the tip to Georgios Nikas.  Nikas again bought Ariad securities based on this tip, and when a news article was published in late August reporting on the takeover offer, Ariad’s stock rose and Nikas made over $2 million in profits.

Nikas also passed the tips he received from TELEMAQUE LAVIDAS to a series of stock traders.  In total, Nikas and the traders he tipped earned over $15 million in profits from the inside information that TELEMAQUE LAVIDAS provided.

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In addition to the prison term, LAVIDAS, 39, was ordered to pay restitution of $186,430.99 and a fine of $50,000.

Ms. Strauss praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and also thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission.   

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Cooper and Daniel Tracer are in charge of the prosecution.          

Topic(s): 
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Contact: 
Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
20-139
Updated July 6, 2020