(Adds comments from Cooperman, details on SEC charges)
BOSTON, Sept 21 Billionaire investor Leon
Cooperman on Wednesday told investors that he and his hedge fund
Omega Advisors refused to settle insider trading charges with
the United States government because he would not let anyone
destroy his legacy.
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday charged
the 73-year old stock picker and his $5.4 billion firm with
illegal trading in Atlas Pipeline Partners six years ago after
they found out about the planned sale of a unit.
Sounding defiant on a 10 minute conference call with
investors, Cooperman said he plans to fight the charges and will
continue to invest money for clients. Cooperman said he likes
what he owns and that there is no need for forced selling in his
portfolios which are making money this year.
"I could have settled this for far less money than I give to
charity every year," Cooperman said, adding "I am not going to
let these people destroy my legacy."
Cooperman, who has been investing for roughly five decades,
said his lawyers forbade him to take questions on the call,
something that goes against his nature to be very open. "I won't
take questions as much as I'm dying to," Cooperman said adding
that he is confident "we will prevail" in fighting the charges.
(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by David Gregorio
and Andrew Hay)