Bryan Cohen, 33, entered the plea in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to commit securities fraud. He also agreed to forfeit $260,000, an amount prosecutors said represented the proceeds of his crime.
According to a plea agreement document, federal sentencing guidelines would suggest a sentence of between 2 1/2 years and three years in prison, though Judge William H. Pauley III will be free to reach his own conclusion at a sentencing scheduled for April 3. The guidelines also called for a fine up to $100,000.
Cohen's defense lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement that his client “to his credit” had accepted responsibility for his conduct. “We are hopeful that at sentencing we will be able to persuade Judge Pauley that despite his criminal conduct Mr. Cohen is a fundamentally decent young man who should be sentenced in a relatively lenient fashion,” Brafman said.
The plea came less than three months after Cohen's arrest on Oct. 18, when prosecutors said he carried out his crime while working in the investment banking division of the bank's New York office. He previously had worked for the bank in London.
Prosecutors said he stole inside information between 2015 and 2017, enabling the securities trader in Switzerland to make timely and profitable trades based on pending corporate acquisitions. In return for providing the secrets, Cohen received benefits, including cash, from the securities trader, prosecutors said.
They said he also tried to conceal his scheme by communicating through prepaid “burner” cell phones and by receiving cash in person or through intermediaries.