Should he stay or should he go? The answer to this question has not been so straightforward for former Goldman Sachs banker Bryan Cohen, whose sentence for insider trading, as FX News Group has reported, has created a legal deadlock. The impasse may end soon, as indicated by documents filed by the United States Department of Justice with the New York Southern District Court on October 15, 2020.
Let’s recall that, on June 9, 2020, Cohen, a French citizen, was sentenced to imprisonment for a total term of time served, as well as to supervised release for a term of one year. The defendant has to complete 1,500 hours of community service that helps the neediest and most vulnerable segment of the US population.
Last week, the counsel for Mr Cohen informed the New York Southern District Court that Mr Cohen whose immigration status in the United States has expired, was recently directed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to voluntarily remove himself from the United States no later than October 24, 2020.
The defense was concerned that immigration authorities could arrest and detain Mr Cohen for failing to obey their directives. The Court, however, said that permitting the defendant to leave the US before completing his community service and home detention would vitiate the very purpose of the sentence.
This impasse, however, may come to an end, thanks to the DOJ’s swift reaction. The letter submitted by the Justice Department on Thursday reveals that the Government has conferred with attorneys for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and does not expect that Cohen will be removed from the United States prior to the completion of his criminal sentence.
As an initial matter, USCIS has advised that the September 21 Notice was issued because Cohen failed to appear on January 22, 2020 for an appointment at which his biometrics (fingerprints, photo and/or digital signature) were to be taken. The September 21 Notice indicates that USCIS has denied Cohen’s application to extend his nonimmigrant status as a result of that failure to appear.
USCIS has further advised that the September 21 Notice is not a directive to Cohen to voluntarily remove himself immediately from the United States. Instead, it serves as a notice that should Cohen remain in the United States, USCIS would typically issue a notice to appear that would initiate a separate administrative proceeding before an immigration judge that could lead to an order of removal.
USCIS has advised that these proceedings would likely not be resolved prior to the termination of Cohen’s supervised release in June 2021. Therefore USCIS does not expect that Cohen would be subject to a removal order issued by an immigration judge prior to that time.
Cohen was sentenced last year for insider trading. He had access to material, nonpublic information (MNPI) relating to corporate transactions, and was under duties and obligations to keep that MNPI strictly confidential. He previously worked in the London office of Goldman, and later transferred to its New York office.
Despite his duties to keep the MNPI confidential, between 2015 and 2017, Cohen stole MNPI from Goldman and passed it to a securities trader based in Switzerland in order to enable the securities trader to place timely, profitable trades based on the MNPI.
Cohen informed the securities trader about corporate acquisitions and provided updates about how the deals were progressing over time. Some of the inside information that he provided related to companies whose securities were listed on United States exchanges. The information that Cohen provided ultimately resulted in substantial profits for the traders who received it and traded based on it. In exchange for providing MNPI he stole from Goldman, Cohen received benefits, including cash, from the securities trader.