U.S. regulators accused a husband and wife in Hong Kong of insider trading stemming from their purchases of Dow Jonesshares prior to News Corp.'s$5 billion takeover bid.
The couple, Kan King Wong and Charlotte Ka On Wong Leung, are accused of purchasing 415,000 shares of Dow Jones shares "while in possession of material, non-public information regarding the offer to buy DJ by News Corp.," the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said.
According to the lawsuit, Wong and his wife, Charlotte, bought 415,000 shares of Dow Jones stock in the two weeks prior to the announcement last week that News Corp. had offered to buy Dow Jones.
In order to cover the expense of purchasing some of the Dow Jones shares, Charlotte's father wired $3.2 million to their brokerage account, according to the lawsuit.
After the public announcement, the value of Dow Jones stock rose 58%, causing the couple's Merrill Lynch account to grow to $23.2 million, a net gain of $8.2 million.
The lawsuit did not explain how the couple would have obtained inside information on the pending offer. According to the Wall Street Journal, one connection the SEC is expected to pursue involves Dow Jones director David K.P. Li, chairman and chief executive of the Bank of East Asia Ltd., Hong Kong's largest locally owned banking group. The suit asks the couple to give up all profits and pay a civil penalty.
Federal and state authorities have said they are investigating suspicious options trading in Dow Jones stock prior to the announcement of News Corp.'s $5 billion bid for the financial news publisher. News last Tuesday of the $60-per-share bid by Rupert Murdoch's company sent Dow Jones shares soaring.
A spokesman for Dow Jones, which publishes The Wall Street Journal, said it has received a subpoena from the New York attorney general's office and a request for information from the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding options trading. Dow Jones will ''cooperate fully'' with the authorities, company spokesman Howard Hoffman said.