Former Senior Managing Director of Investment Bank Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 30 Months for Insider Trading and Making False Statements to FBI Agents
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that FRANK PERKINS HIXON, JR., a former Senior Managing Director of Evercore Group, LLC, a subsidiary of Evercore Partners Inc. (“Evercore”), was sentenced today to 30 months’ imprisonment for insider trading and false statement offenses. In April 2014, HIXON pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams to using inside information to trade and cause others to trade in the securities of Evercore, Westway Group Inc. (“Westway”), and Titanium Metals Corporation (“Titanium”), and to making false statements to FBI agents during the course of the investigation into his insider trading. Judge Abrams also imposed today’s sentence.
According to the Information and other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, as well as statements made during court proceedings:
Between April 2010 and January 2014, HIXON was a Senior Managing Director with the Mining and Metals Group of Evercore. HIXON used material non-public information that he acquired as part of his employment with Evercore to trade and cause trades in brokerage accounts belonging to the mother of his young child (“Individual A”), who lived in Austin, Texas, and to HIXON’s father (“Individual B”), who lived in Johns Creek, Georgia.
HIXON’s Insider Trading
In 2011, HIXON led an Evercore team in advising Westway about a non-public offer from another company (“Company A”) to purchase some of its business components and, more generally, in connection with potential transactions concerning Westway’s other business components. Company A’s offer was made in early September 2011, and a Special Committee was formed around that time to consider the offer and other strategic alternatives. Those developments were not announced publicly until December 15, 2011. Meanwhile, between October 21 and December 15, 2011, HIXON purchased, and caused to be purchased, 229,000 shares of Westway for Individual A’s brokerage account by logging into Individual A’s account from various locations, including Evercore’s Manhattan office. As the negotiations for the contemplated Westway transactions became protracted, HIXON sold and caused to be sold about 140,000 of the Westway shares that had accumulated in Individual A’s account, for a profit of approximately $260,000. Later, in 2012, HIXON made additional purchases of Westway shares for Individual A’s account, in advance of a tender offer for Westway’s outstanding equity securities that was announced on December 20, 2012. Profits reaped from sales of those shares amounted to approximately $104,000.
In October 2012, HIXON was invited, along with other Evercore personnel, to meet with a Special Committee of Titanium’s board of directors to discuss a potential engagement in connection with an unspecified $3 billion transaction. At the October 23, 2012, pitch meeting, which HIXON attended by teleconference from London, England, HIXON and the rest of the Evercore team learned that the transaction being considered was an acquisition of Titanium by Precision Castparts Corp. (“PCP”), a manufacturer of complex metal components and products. HIXON also learned the approximate offer price, and that the transaction was likely to close before year’s end.
Within approximately one hour of the meeting with the Special Committee, HIXON began buying 20,000 Titanium shares for Individual A’s account from a mobile device he was using in London, England. Eight days later, after HIXON had returned from England, 20,000 more shares of Titanium were purchased for Individual A’s account, mostly through logins from Evercore’s Manhattan office. That same day, HIXON caused Individual B to buy 15,000 shares of Titanium. After market close on November 9, 2012, Titanium announced PCP’s tender offer for its shares. The next trading day, November 12, 2012, all 40,000 of Individual A’s shares of Titanium were sold for a profit of approximately $180,000. Later that month, Individual B’s Titanium shares were sold for a profit of approximately $70,000.
On January 14, 2013, HIXON attended an Evercore partnership meeting at which he learned that Evercore would be announcing record financial results for the fourth quarter of 2012. During the two days preceding the bank’s January 30, 2013, announcement, HIXON, logging into Individual A’s account from Evercore’s Manhattan offices and from his home in Manhattan, bought 27,000 shares of Evercore for the account. At the same time, HIXON caused Individual B to purchase 10,000 shares of Evercore for Individual B’s account. After Evercore’s earnings release, Individual A and Individual B sold all of their Evercore shares, and reaped a combined profit of approximately $96,000.
Lies to Evercore and the FBI
In February 2013, Evercore asked HIXON to respond to a request from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) and to identify any known names from a list of people and entities that had traded in Titanium stock prior to PCP’s tender offer. Although Individual A and B were both on the FINRA list, HIXON responded by e-mail: “No known relationships.”
When, following further inquiry from FINRA, Evercore confronted HIXON about his failure to identify Individual A—who, as noted above, is the mother of his young child—HIXON claimed not to know Individual A by her legal name, which was what appeared on the FINRA list, and to know her only by a different name that she uses. Documents produced by Evercore, including text messages and e-mails between HIXON and Individual A, make clear that HIXON had, in fact, long been aware of Individual A’s legal name. And bank records show that he wrote numerous large checks to Individual A, in her legal name, from 2009 to 2010.
Confronted by Evercore with his failure to identify his own father’s name on the FINRA list for Titanium, Hixon asserted that the associated location given for Individual B on the FINRA list, Duluth, Georgia, was inaccurate because Individual B lived in Johns Creek, Georgia. Johns Creek shares a zip code with portions of Duluth, and was only incorporated as its own city many years after Individual B had begun living there. The city listed on the brokerage account statements for Individual B’s account was Duluth, not Johns Creek.
Following Evercore’s inquiries into his conduct, HIXON agreed to swear out a declaration memorializing certain statements he had made upon having been confronted with matters related to Titanium. Among the statements to which Hixon swore was this one: “I did not share any information about Titanium Metals Corporation (‘TIMET’) with anyone outside of Evercore, and was fully aware of my obligations to keep any information I learned about any transaction involving TIMET confidential . . . .”
After swearing out this statement, HIXON called Individual B to alert him to expect an inquiry from an Evercore representative about his Titanium trades. HIXON explained to Individual B that he had provided “privileged information” to Individual B about Titanium, but that he had denied as much in a signed statement to Evercore. HIXON then coached Individual B to lie to Evercore by saying, among other things, that Individual B had researched Titanium and bought the stock on his own. Individual B followed HIXON’s instructions and lied to Evercore’s representative.
On January 27, 2014, FBI agents interviewed Individual A at her home in Austin. She told them, in sum and substance, that her own trading in Titanium and in Westway had been prompted by research she had done, rather than by HIXON. She further claimed that HIXON had never had access to, or traded in, her brokerage account.
On January 28, 2014, HIXON met with two FBI agents and told them, among other things, that he did not have access to and had never traded in Individual A’s brokerage account. HIXON also claimed that he never recommended particular stocks to either Individual A or Individual B, because he did not want to be held responsible for the performance of the stocks he might pick. Regarding Titanium, HIXON said he had been “shocked” by the news that it would be acquired by PCP, and had been surprised at the purchase price.
In addition to the prison sentence, HIXON, 55, of New York, New York, was fined $100,000 and ordered to forfeit $710,000 and to pay $1,204,777.80 in restitution to Evercore. HIXON was also sentenced to three years’ supervised release.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has filed civil charges in a separate action. Mr. Bharara also thanked Evercore for its cooperation in this matter.
This case is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since the inception of FFETF in November 2009, the Justice Department has filed more than 12,841 financial fraud cases against nearly 18,737 defendants including nearly 3,500 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah E. McCallum is in charge of the prosecution.