On Tuesday, attorneys delivered opening arguments in the trial of Benjamin Chow, a Chinese immigrant who has been charged with securities fraud in connection with Canyon Bridge Capital Partners’ failed $1.3 billion acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor Corp. Last year, the Trump Administration blocked the Chinese-backed private equity firm from buying the U.S.-based chipmaker, citing national security risks. China’s central government partly funded Canyon Bridge, which also has indirect links to the country’s space program.
Chow, who is being portrayed by his attorneys as a “true American success story”, immigrated to the U.S. from China as a teenager and ultimately became a managing director at China Reform Fund Management. China Reform Fund Management, a state-owned asset manager, had also expressed interest in buying Lattice before Canyon Bridge, which Chow co-founded, offered to buy the company. According to prosecutors, Chow passed inside information about the pending acquisition to his friend Michael Yin in the months preceding Canyon Bridge’s November announcement of the deal. Prosecutors assert that Yin made more than $5 million trading on that information.
Chow’s lawyers contend that Yin never received any information that Chow was required to keep confidential. “Ben didn’t want to give away a gift worth millions of dollars in exchange for nothing at all,” one of Chow’s attorneys told the New York-based jury. “Michael Yin made a well-timed bet on Lattice and he made millions of dollars, but Benjamin Chow didn’t make a dime.” If convicted, Chow faces up to 25 years in prison.
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