Federal regulators on Friday charged that unknown individuals illegally profited from advance knowledge of the proposed $32 billion buyout of electric utility TXU using foreign brokerage firms for the transactions to conceal their identities.
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in Chicago alleging illegal insider trading in connection with what would be the largest private buyout in U.S. history. "Highly profitable and suspicious" purchases of options on TXU stock on the Chicago Board Options Exchange occurred last month prior to the Feb. 26 announcement that the company had signed a deal with private equity firms, the SEC said.
The agency said it could not yet identify those involved because they purchased the options through foreign brokerage firms, which then cleared the trades through U.S. brokerages that executed them on the Chicago exchange.
The unknown defendants "are in a position" to reap more than $5.3 million in profits from their subsequent sales, the SEC said. TXU stock jumped more than 13% on the day of the announcement.
The SEC is seeking unspecified restitution of trading profits and civil fines against the defendants.