The Financial Conduct Authority said in a statement that the 45 year-old former equities manager will be sentenced on December 21. Insider dealing carries a sentence of up to seven years.
Lyttleton, the regulator said, admitted dealing in 2011 on the basis of insider information he gleaned in the course of his employment at BlackRock, where he worked in the fundamental equity team.
The FCA said: “Mr Lyttleton was able to discover and act on inside information either by working on the deals concerning the stocks or being party to conversations conducted by colleagues. The two stocks concerned are EnCore Oil (between 1 October 2011 and 13 October 2011) and Cairn Energy (between 4 November 2011 and 17 December 2011).”
It added: “Mr Lyttleton 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 concerned. The trading was conducted by Mr Lyttleton through an overseas asset manager trading on behalf of a Panamanian registered company.”
Peters & Peters, the law firm that had been representing Lyttleton, could not immediately be reached for comment on November 2.
Lyttleton was first arrested in April 2013, leaving BlackRock the same year. The FCA embarked on criminal proceedings against him in relation to suspected insider dealing in September 2015. At the time, BlackRock said in a statement: “There was no impact to any of BlackRock’s clients as a result of the alleged actions. The alleged behaviour is totally contrary to the firm’s principles and values, and we strongly support aggressive enforcement of the law in these matters. As charges have now been brought we will not be able to make any further comment.”
Lyttleton is well known in UK fund management, having begun his career with the storied investment firm Mercury Asset Management in the early 1990s, having graduated in chemistry at York University. Progressing from Mercury’s graduate training scheme, he went on to become part of its UK specialist team and later moved to its private clients division.
He stayed on after the company’s 1997 takeover by Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, which was later acquired by BlackRock, taking charge of several funds. In early 2013, he managed assets worth some £3.2 billion, according to a fund factsheet at the time. He had stepped down from BlackRock’s core UK equity fund in February 2012, leaving it in sole charge of Nick Little.
UPDATED: This story has been updated with more background on the case and to reflect that Peters & Peters could not be reached for comment.