SEC freezes traders’ accounts as part of insider trading case
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that a Chinese businessman and his wife whose trading accounts were frozen last year as part of a major insider trading case have agreed to settle charges that they loaded up on the securities of Nexen Inc. while in possession of nonpublic information about an impending announcement that the company was being acquired by China-based CNOOC Ltd.
The SEC obtained an emergency court order in July 2012 to freeze multiple Hong Kong and Singapore-based trading accounts just days after the Nexen acquisition was announced and suspicious trading in Nexen stock was detected. The SEC’s complaint alleged that in the days leading up to the announcement, Hong Kong-based firm Well Advantage Limited and other unknown traders purchased Nexen stock based on confidential details about the acquisition.
The SEC’s investigation has identified Ren Feng and his wife Zeng Huiyu as previously unknown traders charged in the complaint as well as Ren’s private investment company CT Prime Assets Limited and four of Zeng’s brokerage customers on whose behalf she traded. They made a combined $2.3 million in illegal profits from Nexen stock trades made by Ren and Zeng.
The settlement, which is subject to court approval, requires the traders to pay more than $3.3 million combined.
“This settlement requires full disgorgement of the insider trading profits of this group of foreign traders, and Ren and Zeng must additionally pay sizeable penalties,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, Senior Associate Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office.
“This should send a stern warning to anyone contemplating insider trading in U.S. markets from abroad that the SEC uncovers such misconduct and the end result is a severe financial setback rather than a windfall.”