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Cooperman vows to fight insider trading charges to defend legacy

Omega AdvisorsInc. founder Leon Cooperman said he chose to defend his legacy ratherthan settle with the SEC over the insider trading charges filed against him.

"It took me 50 years of hard work, very long hours playingby the rules, to get where I am professionally, and I'm not going to let thembasically unfairly destroy my legacy," Cooperman said in an interview onCNBC's "Squawk Box."

He also said the amount of money that the government isusing to go after him and his company is "shocking."

The SEC charged Cooperman with insider trading for allegedlygetting confidential details about Atlas Pipeline Partners' plan to sell anatural gas processing facility and buying shares of Atlas Pipeline before theannouncement of the sale.

In the interview, Cooperman said he and Omega Advisors havealways complied with the law.

"We could've settled with the SEC for amount that isfar less than I donate to charity on an annual basis, but I refused to do sobecause I know that we acted appropriately and lawfully," he said.

The Omega Advisors founder said he has now two jobs: to makemoney for his investors and to convince a jury that the SEC charges have nomerit.

"Thankfully, despite this mild distraction, we're doingwell. Our Omega credit fund is up 13[%], 14% this year. Our equity-only fund isup about 7% this year, which is in line with S&P, and our all-weather,do-everything fund is up about 5%," Cooperman said.