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City Investment Manager Faces Jail

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CITY INVESTMENT MANAGER FACES JAIL

A former Blackrock portfolio manager who traded whilst knowing of a proposed takeover and an oil discovery in Greenland faces up to seven years in jail for insider dealing.

Mark Lyttleton, 45, dealt in shares and call options in oil and energy between October and December 2011, while having the inside information.

At Southwark Crown Court today (wed), Lyttleton pleaded guilty to two counts of insider dealing.

Wearing a grey suit, white shirt and blue tie, he showed no emotion in the dock during the short hearing.

The maximum jail term for insider dealing is seven years, although the judge said he would give credit for his early pleas.

The first charge states that between October 1 and 13 2011, while being an individual who had information as an insider which related to a proposed takeover of a particular issuer of securities, namely Encore Oil Plc, he dealt in securities.

This involved 175,000 ordinary shares in Encore Oil Plc that were price affected securities in relation to that information.

The second count states that between November 4 2011 and December 17 2011, while being an individual who had information as an insider which related to the discovery of oil in Greenland, being a particular issuer of securities, namely Cairn Energy Plc, he dealt in securities.

This involved 120 Call Options in Cairn Energy Plc that were price affected securities in relation to that information.

Sentencing was adjourned until December 21 for psychological reports to be carried out into his “extraordinary behaviour”.

Patrick Gibbs QC, defending, told the court: “The court will be assisted, in our submission, into some insight into the psychology into this otherwise rather extraordinary behaviour.”

Prosecutor Zoe Johnson QC said it was not expected a confiscation hearing would be needed, as Lyttleton had offered a voluntary payment.

She said: “It is anticipated that once a document is put together by those instructing us, there will be a voluntary payment so confiscation proceedings will be avoided. That is the expectation.”

Lyttleton, of Hampstead, north west London, was granted conditional bail.

The terms includes a condition of residence at his London home, and permission to travel to France or Monaco provided he gives 24 hours notice to the FCA.

While Lyttleton lives in the UK, his wife and children live in France, Mr Gibbs said.

Judge Anthony Leonard QC told Lyttleton: “Your pleas at this early stage will be taken into account to your advantage when you are sentenced on the 21st of December.”

Lyttleton and his wife Delphine were first arrested at their home in 2013, but she was dropped from the inquiry last year, it was reported.

Last month, the FCA announced it had charged Lyttleton with three counts of insider dealing, but one was later dropped.

Lyttleton started his career in finance at Mercury Asset Management, which was acquired by Merrill Lynch & Co. in 1997, and was then sold to BlackRock for $9.4 billion in 2006.

Lyttleton was responsible for running equity funds for institutional pension funds before moving to the retail fund division in 1999, according to his LinkedIn page.

It states that while he was there, he ran the UK equity funds, and the UK Absolute Alpha fund.

He left BlackRock in March 2013, and is now a personal coach, mentor and angel investor, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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