| Business

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Swiss financial regulators join Heinz trading probe

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

Daily Photo Galleries

Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 10:24 a.m.

Financial regulators in Switzerland confirmed on Friday that they joined an expanding investigation of alleged insider trading ahead of a $28 billion deal for H.J. Heinz Co.

Authorities have been unable to identify the person or persons who made suspicious trades from a Goldman Sachs account in Zurich the day before Heinz announced its acquisition deal.

In federal court in Manhattan on Friday no one challenged a temporary freeze on the account that the Securities and Exchange Commission obtained last week. U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff granted the SEC's request for a permanent freeze.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, known as Finma, is helping the SEC investigate who placed a big bet on the Pittsburgh food company's stock.

“Finma always cooperates within its legal mandate with the Securities Exchange Commission on insider investigations,” spokeswoman Christina Bürgi told the Tribune-Review in an email. “We confirm that we received a request for administrative assistance from the SEC in the alleged insider trading case involving the Heinz transaction.”

Bürgi declined to say when Finma received the request or to comment further.

The SEC obtained a court order to freeze assets of the Zurich account on Feb. 15, the day after Heinz said Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital would acquire it. On Tuesday, the FBI said it was looking at the case. The agencies would not comment.

Though the Swiss equivalent of the SEC is assisting with the investigation, the Federal Office of Police in Switzerland told the Trib that U.S. authorities have not contacted it.

The SEC has said New York investment firm Goldman Sachs informed the agency that the Zurich account belongs to a “private wealth client,” but Goldman, which has said it is cooperating with the investigation, doesn't have direct knowledge of who was involved.

SEC investigators have asked Goldman to “use whatever means they have to contact” the traders.

“They can hide but their assets can't run,” Rakoff said after signing the freeze order.

The trader or traders invested about $90,000 in option positions the day before the deal became public, the SEC said. A day later the position increased to more than $1.8 million, or almost 2,000 percent.

The SEC said traders had advance material non-public information about the pending deal. The purchase of the options, which expire on June 22, was highly unusual, the SEC said.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report. Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or

Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. More employers adopt generous leave policies
  2. Koppers CEO believes struggling company can do better, transform
  3. A small warning about employee stock ownership
  4. 2 Marcellus pipeline projects move forward
  5. Small-scale solar power market draws big utilities
  6. How companies may adjust to tax on employee benefits
  7. For some small-business owners, fast, short-term loans have unsustainable interest
  8. Anxiety pervades town built by Volkswagen during emissions-cheating scandal