Heinz trades targeted by SEC unauthorized -Cayman Islands firm

Tue Sep 17, 2013 12:13pm EDT
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By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Cayman Islands entity at the center of a U.S. investigation into possible insider trading in ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co said trades placed in its Swiss bank account were done by someone without permission.

The filing by Alpine Swift Ltd late on Monday deepened a mystery over who placed an options trade that resulted in more than $1.7 million in profits in the run up to Heinz's February announcement that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc and Brazil's 3G Capital would buy it.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued unknown traders over the suspicious trading in February. Soon after, a federal judge froze the assets at a bank account at Goldman Sachs & Co in Switzerland.

The filings came in connection with a motion by Alpine to dismiss the case.

A lawyer for Alpine Swift, an investment holding company, became the first person to appear for the defense in the case last week.

Alpine Swift said it owned the bank account in court filings, but it also said the trade was done by someone who lacked permission to make the trade.

"In fact, the trade was not authorized," Alpine's lawyers wrote. "It was placed by an individual who had no authority to place trades in Alpine's account."

Alpine did not name the individual in its filings. A lawyer for Alpine, Juan Morillo of the global law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.   Continued...