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US freezes assets of Frenchmen in insider trading case

United States’ authorities said Wednesday they had obtained an emergency asset freeze against two French men accused of insider trading in an apparent attempt to illegally profit from a US company takeover.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said it won a court order on Tuesday freezing 4.2 million dollars in profits of Nicolas Condroyer and Gilles Roger, who reside in Brussels, Belgium.

The US market watchdog filed civil charges for insider trading the day after they tried to “illegally profit” from Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis’s acquisition of Chattem, a health care products firm based in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The 1.9 billion dollar acquisition by Sanofi, one of the world’s largest health care products companies, was announced on Monday.

The SEC said the men, both 33 years old, had purchased hundreds of call option contracts for stock in Chattem, which manufactures and markets over-the-counter health care products and whose shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

They made the purchase of the purchase rights “while in possession of material, nonpublic information regarding the impending acquisition,” the statement said.

When the acquisition was announced, Condroyer and Roger immediately sold all of their options for illicit profits of approximately 4.2 million dollars, it said.

“These two men tried to take advantage of the marketplace and cash in on millions of dollars in illegal trades,” said William Hicks, regional trial counsel in the SEC’s Atlanta regional office.

“Fortunately they were caught in the act and the money was successfully frozen.”


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