California man pleads in NY insider trading case

A former employee of a California semiconductor company pleaded guilty to an insider trading charge Wednesday in a probe of corruption in the expert networking industry, admitting that he tipped hedge funds about his company's financial condition.

Stanley Ng, 43, of Cupertino, Calif., entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to a single conspiracy charge, saying he shared inside information in late 2007 and 2008 while working at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Marvell Technology Group Ltd.

"At the time I did this, I knew it was illegal, wrong to share that information," Ng told Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

He said he gave the secrets to Winifred Jiau, who is serving a four-year prison sentence after her conviction in an insider-trading probe that focused on Wall Street consultants who put public company employees willing to divulge secrets about earnings and mergers in conversations with hedge fund managers. Authorities said illegal secrets were passed off as the fruits of legitimate research.

At Marvell, Ng reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission as its manager responsible for ensuring federal securities laws were followed. Marvell was not accused of any crime. Jiau, of Fremont, Calif., worked for two years as a consultant for Primary Global Research, a Mountain View, Calif.-based company.

According to the terms of a plea agreement with the government, Ng faces between six months and a year in prison when he is sentenced April 9.

The investigation of the expert networking industry has resulted in about a dozen arrests. It was a spinoff of a probe of the hedge fund industry that authorities have called the biggest insider trading case in history.

Former billionaire Raj Rajaratnam, 54, of Manhattan, began serving an 11-year prison term this week. The founder of the Galleon Group of hedge funds was convicted earlier this year in a case that prosecutors said resulted in more than $70 million of illegal profits. His sentence was the longest ever given in an insider trading case.