* One of Britain's highest-profile insider trading
* Mark Lyttleton made 35,000 stg from two illegal trades
* Caught despite using unregistered phones, overseas account
By Andrew MacAskill
LONDON, Dec 21 A former star fund manager in the
London office of asset manager BlackRock on Wednesday
was sentenced to 12 months in jail after pleading guilty to two
counts of insider dealing.
Mark Lyttleton, 45, admitted buying shares in EnCore Oil and
Cairn Energy ahead of public announcements from both
firms, after hearing privileged information from colleagues.
Lyttleton wearing a grey suit, a blue-and-white tie and
white shirt sat impassively as the verdict was read out in a
The Financial Conduct Authority, Britain's markets
regulator, said he made a net profit of about 35,000 pounds by
buying the two stocks through an overseas asset manager trading
on behalf of a Panamanian-registered company.
Lyttleton is one of the highest-profile figures to be
sentenced in Britain for insider trading. His funds were popular
with investors during the financial crisis after he posted
positive returns. At the peak he personally managed assets worth
about 4.5 billion pounds ($5.6 billion).
Judge Andrew Goymer said an extraordinary aspect of the case
was that Lyttleton was already wealthy, he was under no
financial pressure and the gains were small relative to his
"It is inexplicable that he should have thrown all of this
away in the conduct that he did," he said. "The defendant had no
need for the money because he was earning a good income."
Lyttleton made about 45,000 pounds from buying shares in
EnCore after hearing that it may be subject to a takeover bid.
A month later, he lost 10,000 pounds trading in Cairn Energy
after being told the firm would record positive drilling results
in Greenland, which subsequently proved to be not as good as
The financial regulator said Lyttleton tried to hide his
dealings by using unregistered mobile phones and setting up a
company in his wife's maiden name.
Lyttleton spent 21 years working in financial services. His
interest in finance started when he won the Daily Telegraph
newspaper's stock picking competition aged 7, and at university
he began working as an intern at an asset management company.
His defence lawyer, Patrick Gibbs, said the illegal trades
were made when Lyttleton was depressed and under pressure in his
job after his funds began underperforming.
"He looks back on these events and thinks 'what on earth was
I doing,'" Gibbs said.
Insider trading is an offence in Britain that is punishable
by up to 7 years in prison.
The markets regulator has secured more than 30 insider
dealing convictions since starting to prosecute this crime more
aggressively in 2009.
Since leaving BlackRock, Lyttleton has become a personal
coach and a Reiki practitioner, according to his LinkedIn
($1 = 0.8079 pounds)
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, editing by Simon Jessop and