The Securities and Exchange Commission is charging a Brazilian ex-banker for his role in an insider-trading scheme.
And it seems he had a soft spot for fast food, because the target of his scheme was Burger King securities.
The SEC previously charged a Brazilian citizen working in the Miami office of Wells Fargo with tipping him the inside information.
It alleges that Igor Cornelsen and his firm through which he made trades—Bainbridge Group—reaped illicit profits of more than $1.68 million by trading Burger King options based on confidential information ahead of the company’s September 2010 announcement that it was being acquired by a New York private equity firm.
It adds Cornelsen sought inside information from his broker Waldyr Da Silva Prado Neto by sending him e-mails with such masked references such as, “Is the sandwich deal going to happen?”
Prado was stealing the inside information from another Wells Fargo brokerage customer involved in the Burger King deal, says SEC.
Cornelsen and Bainbridge Group agreed to pay more than $5.1 million to settle the SEC’s charges. The settlement is subject to court approval, and the litigation continues against Prado, whose assets have been frozen by the court.
“Cornelsen shamelessly prodded Prado for details on, and Prado happily obliged to satisfy his customer’s appetite for inside information,” says Daniel M. Hawke, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit and Director of the Philadelphia Regional Office.
Sanjay Wadhwa, Deputy Chief of the Market Abuse Unit and Associate Director of the New York Regional Office, adds, “Foreign investors who access the U.S. capital markets must play by the rules and not rig the market in their favor, otherwise they face getting caught by the SEC and paying a hefty price as Cornelsen is here.”
According to the SEC’s complaint, Cornelsen became Prado’s customer in 2008. It says Prado told a friend he had knowledge of the impending Burger King deal and after talking with Prado, Cornelsen began trading out-of-the-money Burger King call options the very next day.
The SEC alleges Cornelsen continued trading Burger King options over that summer despite losing money in some instances. He also took steps to minimize his connection to Prado by purchasing the Burger King call options in accounts held at brokerage firms other than where Prado worked.
Regulators also say that after the public announcement of the Burger King deal, Cornelsen e-mailed Prado to inquire about the acquisition price. Upon learning the new per share price that would yield him substantial illegal profits, Cornelsen e-mailed back, “Wow! What a day!”