WASHINGTON, March 1 The U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission said on Wednesday it froze the assets of
certain traders in a suspected insider trading scheme involving
more than $3.6 million in profits related to the takeover
Fortress Investment Group by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp
SoftBank said after the close of business on Feb. 14 that it
had agreed to acquire Fortress for $3.3 billion in cash. The SEC
said unidentified traders at brokerages in London and Singapore
had information on the acquisition before it was made public.
The SEC said the traders purchased Fortress stock on Feb. 14
and sold it the following day for profits totaling $3.6 million.
"The SEC's emergency action to freeze the proceeds of the
traders' highly suspicious transactions within days of the
public announcement ensures that the profits cannot be removed
from the accounts while the agency's investigation of the
trading continues," the SEC said in a statement.
The SEC obtained an emergency court order on Feb. 24 to
freeze the assets and also to prohibit the traders from
destroying evidence, the agency said.
"The commission is seeking a final judgment ordering the
traders to disgorge their ill-gotten gains with interest, pay
financial penalties, and permanently enjoin them from future
violations," the agency said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Writing by Doina Chiacu;
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe)