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LONDON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - A former manager at IT consultancy Logica has admitted illegally trading the company's shares before the firm was taken over by a Canadian rival, a British regulator said on Thursday.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said Ryan Willmott, formerly group reporting and financial planning manager for Logica, pleaded guilty on Thursday to three instances of insider trading which netted him 30,000 pounds ($46,533).
Willmott, 33, traded Logica shares based on confidential information about the takeover of Logica by Canadian rival CGI Group that was publicly announced on May 31, 2012, the FCA said in a statement.
He set up a trading account in the name of a former girlfriend, without her knowledge, and also passed on inside information to a family friend who used it to trade on his and Willmott's behalf, the FCA added.
The watchdog declined to say if it was pursuing Willmott's family friend as well.
The FCA has made it a priority to crack down on insider trading before mergers, and suspicious share price moves ahead of takeovers have declined in recent years as the number of prosecutions has mounted.
"This case shows that using others to try to cover up that breach of trust does not prevent detection," said Georgina Philippou, the regulator's acting head of enforcement.
"The FCA will not stand by when people take part in opportunistic insider dealing."
Willmott will be sentenced on March 26. Insider trading is a criminal offence and punishable by a fine and up to seven years in jail.
The markets regulator had previously secured 25 convictions for insider dealing since March 2009 and is still prosecuting eight individuals.
$1 = 0.6447 pounds Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Pravin Char