Swiss financial regulators join Heinz trading probe
By Alex Nixon
Published: 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Stocks struggle as investors weigh economic news
- Railroad entrepreneur Henry Posner recovers $14.6M from Guatemala
- Reporter want ad: Did your health insurer cancel your plan?
- Fed says economy ‘trudging’ on
- Steel Nation hopes to use oil, gas field success as springboard
- Lobby: EPA imperils energy boom
- Olive Garden challenges competitors with 6-ounce burger
- Flabeg wins court battle
- Taking vacation vital, personnel managers say
- Companies fear burnout affects bottom line, advises workers to relax
- Western Pennsylvania shoppers prepared to bust some doors