Indian Data Analyst Stole COVID Drug Info to Gain Massive One-Day Returns in Options Trading

Written on 01/24/2024
Asia91 Team

(New York): The Southern District of New York has announced that a jury found Indian-origin individual AMIT DAGAR guilty of insider trading and conspiring to trade on insider information. AMIT DAGAR and his partner, a friend, gained over $250,000 from options trading using stolen COVID-19 drug information. The verdict came after a two-week trial.


Last year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed insider trading charges against ex-Pfizer employee Amit Dagar and his business partner, Atul Bhiwapurkar, for trading before the announcement of a successful trial of the antiviral COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid.


According to Joseph Sansone, Chief of the SEC's Market Abuse Unit, Dagar and Bhiwapurkar allegedly leveraged this information by trading out-of-the-money call options to generate massive one-day returns.


Key Points from U.S. Court Convicting Indian-American Ex-Pfizer Employee of Insider Trading:


  • Amit Dagar, 44 years old, of Hillsborough, New Jersey, was a Senior Statistical Program Lead at Pfizer, responsible for managing data analysis in specific clinical drug trials.



  • On November 4, 2021, Dagar learned of positive results from a Pfizer trial of the drug Paxlovid, designed to treat mild to severe COVID-19 infections. These results were confidential and meant to remain so until Pfizer's public announcement the following week.



  • Later the same day, while the results were still confidential, DAGAR purchased short-dated, out-of-the-money Pfizer call options that expired in the following days and weeks. DAGAR also shared this information with a close friend who purchased short-dated, out-of-the-money Pfizer call options.



  • On November 5, 2021, Pfizer publicly released the results of its Paxlovid study before the market opened. Following this release of positive results, Pfizer's stock price substantially increased, opening and eventually closing more than 10% higher than the previous day's closing price.



  • In the subsequent weeks, DAGAR sold his Pfizer call options, resulting in profits exceeding $270,000.



  • DAGAR, 44, of Hillsborough, New Jersey, was convicted of one count of securities fraud, carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, with a maximum sentence of five years in prison.