February 3, 2015 / 7:29 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 2-U.S. charges ex-Banco Santander executive with insider trading

(Adds prior acquittal of Canas in Spain, details on co-defendant in SEC case)

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK, Feb 3 (Reuters) - A former Banco Santander SA executive has been indicted for insider trading ahead of a proposed 2010 takeover of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc by the mining group BHP Billiton Ltd, U.S. prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Cedric Canas Maillard, 41, a former adviser to Santander’s chief executive, faces two charges of securities fraud.

He worked for the bank in Spain, where he is a citizen, and it was not clear whether he still lives there. Prosecutors in the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said only that he has not been arrested.

The allegations in the indictment are not new. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2013 filed a similar civil lawsuit against Canas, who agreed in July 2014 to settle for $1.92 million.

Jonathan Buck, a lawyer who represented Canas in his SEC case, did not respond to requests for comment.

According to the criminal indictment, Canas learned in August 2010 by virtue of his position at the bank that BHP Billiton was planning a bid for Potash.

Canas bought the equivalent of 30,000 Potash shares through contracts-for-difference, a leveraged security not traded in the United States, prosecutors said.

Soon after, the Potash board announced it had received and rejected a $38.6 billion offer from BHP Billiton; the news of the bid sent its stock soaring, making Canas more than $900,000 in illicit profits, according to prosecutors.

Canas was acquitted of related criminal charges in Spain in 2014.

The SEC also sued Julio Marin Ugedo, a friend of Canas and a former judge in Spain whom authorities say also purchased Potash shares based on a tip from Canas.

The regulator has been unable to serve Marin with the complaint, according to court documents. A federal judge in New York last month said she would dismiss the case unless the SEC successfully obtained local counsel in Spain and served Marin by March 16.

The case is U.S. v. Maillard, U.S. District Court, Southern District Court, No. 14-829. (Reporting by Joseph Ax and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Grant McCool)

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