Former SAC Capital Advisors Portfolio Manager Michael Steinberg
Former SAC Capital Advisors portfolio manager Michael Steinberg.Reuters

Veteran SAC Capital Advisors portfolio manager Michael Steinberg could be looking at a six-and-a-half year jail sentence for his part in what prosecutors have described as "the most lucrative insider trading scheme in American history". 

Steinberg and eight current and former SAC employees convicted in a federal probe of insider trading at the hedge fund will be sentenced today.

Earlier US District Judge Richard Sullivan in Manhattan rejected a request to acquit Steinberg, who has made millions from using inside tips on tech stocks at the hedge fund run by Steven Cohen.

Sullivan ruled: "On the facts presented at trial, a rational jury could find that (Steinberg) knew or was wilfully blind to the fact that the tippers breached duties of trust and confidence by disclosing material nonpublic information for their personal benefits," reported Reuters.

SAC Capital's $1.8bn (£1bn, €1.3bn) settlement with the US government was accepted last month.

Assistant US attorney Antonia Apps wrote that the financial penalty was an appropriate punishment for the criminal conduct at SAC Capital.

In February, former SAC portfolio manager Mathew Martoma was convicted on all three conspiracy fraud charges, which bagged the fund $275m. 

A jury convicted Steinberg in December 2013 on charges of conspiracy and securities fraud.

Steven A Cohen's SAC Capital had agreed to plead guilty in November 2013 to insider trading allegations and agreed then to pay the $1.8bn settlement.

Steinberg is now reported to be hoping his philanthropic activities, which include co-founding an organisation that donated $8.4m to charities in Africa, will make the judge show mercy on him.

This strategy has worked in the past, as in the case of former Goldman trader Rajat Gupta who copped a two year sentence in 2012 for tipping off associates.