UPDATE 2-SEC charges two with insider trading on Ackman's bet on Herbalife

Tue Sep 30, 2014 4:05pm EDT
 
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(Adds background on Herbalife)

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON, Sept 30 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators on Tuesday charged two men with insider trading after they learned that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman was planning to announce a $1 billion bet against Herbalife Ltd based on a view the company was merely a "pyramid scheme."

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that Filip Szymik, 28, learned about Ackman's plans to announce his short position from his roommate who worked at Ackman's fund, Pershing Square Management L.P.

He then allegedly tipped off Jordan Peixoto, 30, of Toronto, Canada who worked at the time as an analyst in the New York offices of Deloitte & Touche.

The SEC said that Peixoto then bought Herbalife put options on Dec. 19, 2012 - a day before Ackman made his announcement and reaped $47,100 in profits.

Later that day, CNBC reported Ackman's short position and his plans to present his negative view on Herbalife. Ackman gave his presentation on Dec. 20, 2012.

Between the CNBC report and Ackman's presentation, the SEC said that Herbalife's shares tumbled by 39 percent by the close of trading on Dec. 24.

Szymik has agreed to settle and pay a $47,100 penalty without admitting or denying the charges.   Continued...