UPDATE 1-Fairfax Financial, CEO probed over possible insider trading

Fri Aug 1, 2014 12:33pm EDT
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(Adds details on Fairfax and tipping charge, updates stock price)

By Cameron French

TORONTO Aug 1 (Reuters) - Quebec's securities regulator is investigating Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, its chief executive officer and president for possible illegal insider trading as well as tipping, or passing along sensitive information, Fairfax said.

Fairfax, a Canadian property and casualty insurer, disclosed the information late Thursday in its second-quarter financial statement.

"The investigation concerns the possibility of illegal insider trading and/or tipping (not involving any personal trading by the individuals) in connection with a Quebec transaction," Fairfax said.

Tipping refers to the practice of passing along sensitive information that could then be used for trading.

CEO Prem Watsa, a closely followed contrarian investor, addressed the issue on a conference call early Friday. He denied that he, the president, Paul Rivett, and the company had done anything improper.

"We are fully cooperating with the authorities and we are required strict confidentiality during the investigation," he said. " ... I can say there is no personal trading involved and we are confident that we did nothing wrong."

Sylvain Théberge, a spokesman for the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), the securities regulator for Quebec, the French-speaking Canadian province, said he could neither confirm nor deny the existence of the investigation, citing agency policy.   Continued...