U.S. charges analyst in IBM insider trading case

WASHINGTON Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:13am IST

A worker is pictured behind a logo at the IBM stand on the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover February 26, 2011. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz/Files

A worker is pictured behind a logo at the IBM stand on the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover February 26, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz/Files

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. authorities on Wednesday announced charges against a research analyst for trading and tipping others ahead of a 2009 acquisition by computer giant IBM (IBM.N), expanding a related insider trading case filed last month.

Federal prosecutors charged Trent Martin, who worked at a Connecticut brokerage firm, for purchasing shares of SPSS before IBM agreed to the $1.2 billion deal. He was also charged with passing the information to others, including his roommate.

On November 29 the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission charged two former stockbrokers, including Martin's roommate, for their roles in the alleged insider trading scheme.

The three and others made more than $1 million by trading ahead of the acquisition, prosecutors said.

Martin was specifically named as the source of the information in instant messages between the two brokers, Thomas Conradt and David Weishaus, authorities said.

In a July 2009 message, referring to Martin by name, Conradt wrote: "holy f*** . . . god trent told me not to tell anyone . . . big mistake," according to the indictment unsealed on Wednesday.

Weishaus responded, "eh, we'll get rich."

Martin, an Australian citizen, was arrested on December 22 in Hong Kong, the Justice Department said. Martin could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which filed related civil charges against Martin on Wednesday, said he fled the United States to Australia soon after learning about the SEC's investigation.

IBM agreed to pay $50 per share for SPSS, a 42 percent premium to SPSS' closing price on the day before the purchase was announced.

(Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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