(Reuters) – The founder of a hedge fund in New York was accused on Thursday of pressuring a rival not to bid on assets related to Neiman Marcus' bankruptcy so that he could buy them at a lower price, the US Department of Justice said Thursday.
Daniel Kamensky, whose Marble Ridge Capital LP specializes in "distressed" investments and liquidates his assets, was accused of securities fraud, wire fraud, extortion and bribery in connection with bankruptcy and obstruction of justice.  Mr. Kamensky appeared briefly in Manhattan's federal court, where the bail was set at $ 250,000. His lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prosecutors said Kamensky's plan began on July 31
Mr. Kamensky, 47, of Roslyn, New York, reportedly threatened to use his role as co-chair of the dealer's official committee for unsecured creditors to block the higher bid and stop doing business with the bank unless it backed down.
Prosecutors said after the bank withdrew its bid, Kamensky tried to cover his tracks by asking an employee there in a recorded conversation to tell the committee and law enforcement that he was only proposing that the bank bid if it was serious.
"Do you understand … I can go to jail," Kamensky said.
"I honestly … do not want anything to do with this," the employee replied.
"My position .. will be, see, this was a huge misunderstanding," Kamensky said. "They will say that I abused my position as trustee, which I probably did, right?"
I a voluntary interview taken later under oath called Mr Kamensky's conversations with the employee a "terrible mistake" and a "profound mistake in death", prosecutors said.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission filed related civil charges.
Marble Ridge had assets of $ 1.2 billion as of December 31. It announced liquidation in August 20. after Kamensky's conduct began to be reviewed.
Mr. Kamensky founded Marble Ridge in 2015 after working as a bankruptcy lawyer for hedge fund firm Paulson & Co.
Neiman applied for protection in Chapter 11 in May.