Assets under management at Omega Advisors shrank by more than half, to $3.4 billion, since the Securities and Exchange Commission charged the hedge fund giant for insider trading, Chairman and CEO Leon Cooperman told CNBC on Thursday.
Cooperman said on “Fast Money Halftime Report” he is “truly surprised at the destructive power the SEC has.”
“This will cost me well over ($100 million) before it’s over for no reason because, in the end, the facts will make it clear no improper trading was done,” Cooperman said.
In September, the 73-year-old Cooperman and his hedge fund were accused by the SEC of using insider information in 2010 to generate illegal profits, and then allegedly trying to cover their tracks.
According to the investigators, Cooperman bought into Atlas Pipeline Partners ahead of a deal, using his status as one of its largest shareholders to acquire nonpublic information about an upcoming transaction. When Atlas struck a deal to sell its Elk City, Oklahoma, operating facilities, its shares’ value increased by more than 30 percent.
“By doing so, [Cooperman] allegedly undermined the public confidence in the securities markets and took advantage of other investors who did not have this information,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.
Cooperman previously told CNBC the charges from the SEC are “without merit,” and he planned to fight them “vigorously.”
After investigators subpoenaed Omega and Cooperman, the hedge fund manager said he had learned a lot about the process and is “anxious” to get into the courtroom to explain the facts. He added that he was saddened by money being “wasted” on the case and said he found the reaction from investors “interesting.”
“I have one-half dozen legendary and iconic investors that contributed to making America great — either managing or founding Fortune 25 companies. To a person, they expressed support for me and Omega, saying they know who I am, what I stand for, and they know what the SEC is all about and stayed with me,” he said Thursday.
“Then you have the institutional investor who, more often than not (with a professional representing them), redeemed out,” he said. “They didn’t buy into the fact that under the American system of jurisprudence you are innocent until proven guilty.”
Cooperman said 100 percent of the redemptions were honored in cash.
Ceresney is scheduled to leave the agency.