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Former manager at BlackRock jailed for insider dealing

A former manager at BlackRock who was hailed a star performer has been jailed for 12 months for insider dealing.

Mark Lyttleton, 45, carried out the "premeditated and dishonest" offences between October and December 2011 when he placed trades in two stocks - EnCore Oil and Cairn Energy - on the basis of inside information.

Lyttleton, a former equity portfolio manager, was able to use the inside information to inform his purchase of shares a short time before any public announcement was made about the stocks.

He was handed a 12-month prison sentence and ordered to pay £149,861.27 by Judge Andrew Goymer at Southwark Crown Court.

The judge said what Lyttleton, from London, did was "blatantly dishonest", saying: "There's no doubt in my mind that this defendant knew full well what he was doing."

He added: "I do regard these offences as premeditated and dishonest."

The judge said: "Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about this case is that this defendant, with his good character, with his previously excellent work record, with his lengthy experience in the City - it is somewhat inexplicable that he should have thrown all this away by engaging in the conduct he did."

Judge Goymer said there were few tasks "more disagreeable" than sentencing a man of Lyttleton's age, background and character.

He said a prison sentence was required to "bring home" the seriousness of the offence, as well as to deter others.

The judge told Lyttleton: "Anybody that commits the offence of insider dealing must expect to go to prison immediately."

He added: "There is regrettably a need to deter those that are in a position such as this defendant from committing this type of offence."

The judge said it was important to show that people cannot "simply buy themselves out" of these situations.

He also said Lyttleton's reasons for engaging in the conduct "remains a mystery", adding that he was earning a good income, did not do it to gain directly for himself and was not under financial stringency.

Lyttleton pleaded guilty to two counts of insider dealing in November. He was also ordered to pay costs of £83,225.62.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority, said: "Lyttleton's insider dealing involved a gross abuse of the trust placed in him as a senior fund manager.

"He tried to hide his misconduct through the use of unregistered mobile phones and setting up a company in his wife's maiden name in an overseas jurisdiction. None of this meant he could avoid detection.

"Those who are tempted to insider deal, especially financial industry professionals, must know now they are more likely to be caught than ever before and, when caught, they will likely face a custodial sentence."

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