Former BlackRock UK equity star pleads guilty to insider trading

Mark Lyttleton, a former UK equity fund manager at BlackRock, has today pleaded guilty to two counts of insider dealing.  

Lyttleton, 45, will be sentenced on 21 December following today’s hearing held at Southwark Crown Court in London.

He admitted dealing on the basis of insider information he obtained during the course of his employment at BlackRock, according to a statement released by the Financial Conduct Authority announcing the news.

In his portfolio manager role in the London-based fundamental equity team at US investment giant BlackRock, the UK regulator said that Lyttleton was able to discover and act on inside information either by working on the deals concerning the stocks or being party to conversations conducted by colleagues.

The two stocks concerned are EnCore Oil Plc (between 1 October 2011 and 13 October 2011) and Cairn Energy Plc (between 4 November 2011 and 17 December 2011).

Panama registered

Lyttleton was able to use the inside information to inform his purchase of shares a short time before any public announcement was made about the stocks concerned. The trading was conducted by Lyttleton through an overseas asset manager trading on behalf of a Panamanian registered company, the FCA said.

Lyttleton, seen by many as a rising star in the BlackRock UK equity team, ran funds including the BlackRock UK Dynamic fund and the Blackrock UK Absolute alpha fund, with assets of more than £2bn (US$2.45bn) at one point.

He was originally arrested along with his wife Delphine (who was later dropped from the FCA investigation last year) at their West London home in May 2013.

According to his LinkedIn profile page Lyttleton is now listed as a personal coach, mentor and angel investor.

‘Highs and lows’

“I have experienced many highs (excelling at work) and lows (being arrested) and the understanding I try to share can be beneficial to people in all positions, in all walks of life,” Lyttleton says in a summary on his profile on the social media site.

BlackRock had said previously on the matter that Lyttleton’s trades were carried out for his personal gain while off the firm’s premises and that neither BlackRock, nor any employee was under investigation.

The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 gives the FCA powers to investigate and prosecute insider dealing, defined by The Criminal Justice Act 1993. Since then the FCA, and previously the Financial Services Authority, have secured 30 convictions in relation to insider dealing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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