Ex-CSFB banker in court over insider plot

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The Independent Online

A top City banker abused his position to pocket "serious riches", a court heard yesterday.

A top City banker abused his position to pocket "serious riches", a court heard yesterday.

For years Asif Butt, the vice-president of Credit Suisse First Boston's legal and compliance department, fed sensitive commercial information to four friends outside the bank who made spread bets for him, it was alleged at London's Southwark Crown Court.

Mr Butt, who no longer works for CSFB, and his co-defendants were said to have made "considerable" amounts of money from bets which involved predicting movements in share prices based on information that Mr Butt handled as part of his job.

Opening the case for the prosecution, James Curtis QC said: "In this way the various defendants succeeded in enriching themselves quite seriously, quite substantially." He said between 50 and 80 per cent of the winnings went to Mr Butt.

Mr Curtis went on to say: "And by securing that unlawful and unfair advantage over the general public, who did not have the specialists' knowledge he had and used, the sanctity, the reputation of the highly regulated London stock market was damaged."

In the dock with Mr Butt, 35, are Ian Beale, 39, Alexander Coleman, 34, Richard Judson, 38 and Daniel Masters, 32. They all deny one count of conspiracy to commit insider trading between 31 July 1998 and 17 January 2002.

The court heard that by trading in such companies as NatWest, the Woolwich Building Society, EMI and British Energy, the defendants allegedly pocketed a total £250,000.

Mr Curtis told the court that Mr Butt was based in the "secure control room" at CSFB and headed a team of eight in charge of updating the "watch list". That contained the names of corporate clients about to issue profits warnings or were involved in other price-sensitive events such as takeovers.

The trial continues.