Prosecutors say FBI trainee stole tips from lawyer-girlfriend to trade on Merck deal

Signage is seen at the Merck & Co. headquarters in Kenilworth, New Jersey, US, November 13, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Markin allegedly traded on tips stolen from lawyer-girlfriend
  • He apparently gleaned details about a $1.85 mth Merck deal
  • Covington & Burling represented Merck on the transaction

(Reuters) – (This July 25 story corrects to change lead image)

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan on Monday charged a former FBI agent-in-training with insider trading on information he allegedly stole from his then-girlfriend, a corporate law firm associate who was working on confidential matters at home due to the pandemic.

Seth Markin last year secretly took information from the associate’s apartment about her client Merck & Co.’s pending $1.85 billion acquisition of Pandion Therapeutics, prosecutors said. Mankin and co-defender Brandon Wong then made more than $1.4 million trading illegally on Pandion shares, according to a 25-page indictment.

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An attorney for Markin did not respond to a request for comment on the charges. Edward Kim of New York-based Krieger Kim & Lewin, who represents Wong, declined to comment.

The associate was not named in the indictment, which referred to her employer only as a major Washington, DC, law firm. A spokesperson for Washington-based Covington & Burling, which represented Merck in the Pandion deal, did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for the Manhattan US attorney’s office had no immediate comment. Merck said in a statement that it is cooperating with the US attorney’s office.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday also filed insider trading charges against Markin and Wong.

After the Merck deal was made public, Wong used $1.3 million he made from selling Pandion shares to buy two Rolex watches for himself and a $40,000 Rolex for Markin, prosecutors said. He also bought himself a house and treated Markin to a luxury Hawaiian vacation and a $1,000 meal at a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Brooklyn, they alleged.

Prosecutors said Markin “abused his relationship” with his then-girlfriend, earning her trust because he was training to be an FBI agent and said he wanted to marry her.

The associate left Markin alone inside her apartment, where she kept work documents, and would conduct work calls inside the apartment while he was present, prosecutors said.

Markin lied to both the associate and to FBI agents about his trades, according to the indictment.

The charges were part of a broader of insider trading indictments US prosecutors unveiled Monday, including charges against former Indiana US congressman Stephen Buyer.

(NOTE: This story was updated with statement from Merck & Co.)

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