Banker facing insider trading charges in US had past UK arrest

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An investment banker charged with insider trading in the US was previously arrested in the UK three years ago in connection with a similar investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter and UK court records.

Darina Windsor, 32, was indicted last week by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, who accused her of participating in a “wide-ranging international insider trading ring” that generated tens of millions of dollars.

Ms Windsor, a former Centerview Partners banker, worked in London when she was alleged to have stolen information about deals and provided them to securities traders. She currently resides in Thailand and is considered a fugitive, US prosecutors have said.

In 2016 she was arrested by London’s Metropolitan Police on behalf of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority in connection with “an offence of insider dealing under investigation”, according to British court records. A person familiar with the matter confirmed her arrest.

Ms Windsor made an application to vary her police bail conditions in November 2016, the court records show. Civil charges filed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week said Ms Windsor, “a native of Thailand”, lived in London until 2016.

The Financial Times was unable to reach Ms Windsor for comment. The court docket for her case in New York lists no attorney for her. The FCA declined to comment.

Federal prosecutors in the US announced the case last week, alleging that six defendants participated in a years-long insider trading scheme where securities traders paid investment bankers for information about upcoming deals.

The defendants allegedly used encrypted messaging applications, “burner” or temporary phones and cash payments to avoid detection as they profited from trading in a range of stocks, including Merck and Amgen, the pharmaceuticals groups.

The news of Ms Windsor’s previous arrest came as a court in London denied bail on Monday for another defendant in the case, Joseph El-Khouri, a securities trader to whom Ms Windsor is alleged to have passed information.

Robert Jansen, an extradition lawyer with the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service, acting on behalf of the US authorities, told Westminster magistrates court that Mr El-Khouri, 52, was a potential flight risk with “significant financial resources” and regularly travelled to Monaco.

Edward Jones, Mr El-Khouri’s lawyer, from Hodge Jones & Allen, told the court that his client was a dual UK-Lebanese citizen and was “not a major player” in the alleged scheme.

The US had been unsuccessful in extraditing another co-conspirator in the alleged scheme from Monaco to the US, Mr Jansen told the court. He did not identify the co-conspirator. In hearings in New York, US prosecutors have also alluded to their difficulties in apprehending a defendant in the insider trading case.

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At an October 22 bail hearing for Bryan Cohen, an investment banker at Goldman Sachs charged in the same scheme, a prosecutor with the Manhattan US attorney’s office referenced a French national the US had been unable to extradite. Mr Cohen was granted bail.

“In this same broader investigation . . . an investment banking insider, a French national, who was arrested overseas, was granted bail, returned to France, and is there now immune from extradition,” said Daniel Tracer, an assistant US attorney.

It was not immediately clear who Mr Tracer had referred to in his comments. Prosecutors have said another defendant in the case, Benjamin Taylor, a former Moelis banker who had dated Ms Windsor, is currently at large and residing in France.

A spokesman for the Manhattan US attorney’s office declined to comment. The FT was unable to reach Mr Taylor for comment and the US court docket also lists no attorney for him.