Financial expert fined in Holcim insider trading case

The man made a CHF2 million profit on investments after the announcement in April 2014 of the planned merger of Holcim with French rival Lafarge SA. Keystone

The Federal Criminal Court has found a Zurich-based financial expert guilty of insider trading linked to the merger of cement producers Lafarge and Holcim. He was fined CHF7,800 ($7,900) but escaped a suspended prison sentence demanded by prosecutors.

This content was published on December 19, 2017

The Swiss Attorney General’s Office had accused the 53-year-old man of investing in derivatives and equities of the cement producer Holcim between January 2013 and April 2014 based on insider information.

The man made a CHF2 million profit on the investments for himself, his partner and three of his customers after the announcement in April 2014 of the planned merger of Holcim with French rival Lafarge SA. 

On Tuesday, the Federal Criminal Court ruled that there was a clear chain of evidence before the company merger showing that the financial expert had bought shares based on insider knowledge. If rejected his claim that he had only invested in the shares based on rumours. 

While there was sufficient evidence to issue a verdict on the merger case, there was not enough regarding five other insider trading cases on trial. The Bellinzona-based court, however, voiced its suspicion that the man could also have received financial information for these from inside Holcim. 

Of his CHF2 million profit, the suspect must disgorge CHF560,000 to Swiss federal authorities. His partner and the three customers must also pay compensation for the wrongfully acquired profits.

It is unclear whether the man will appeal to Switzerland's Supreme Court.

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