SEC charges four in California with insider trading

Fri Jun 13, 2014 4:40pm EDT

* Ross Stores' sales, Oracle purchase said to be leaked

* More than $12.6 million illegal profit alleged

By Jonathan Stempel

June 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday charged four San Francisco-area men with insider trading in Ross Stores Inc stock options, and one of the four with insider trading in stock options of a company that was later bought by Oracle Corp.

The alleged scheme resulted in more than $12.6 million of illegal profit and was centered on Saleem Khan, a former finance manager at a healthcare nonprofit, according to the regulator.

Khan will begin a 1-3/4 year prison term on June 23 after pleading guilty in an unrelated case, court records show.

According to the SEC, former Ross finance executive Roshanlal Chaganlal from 2009 through 2012 routinely tipped Khan about the apparel retailer's monthly sales results.

Khan allegedly used the tips to make $11.4 million by trading Ross stock options for himself and his brother-in-law, and through intermediaries kicked $130,000 back to Chaganlal.

The regulator said Khan also provided inside tips about Ross to his supervisor Ranjan Mendonsa and colleague Ammar Akbari, who made a respective $800,000 and $2,000 in Ross stock options.

Khan was also accused by the SEC of making $450,000 by using tips from an Oracle insider to trade Taleo Corp stock options in the six days before Oracle agreed on Feb. 9, 2012 to buy that software company for $1.9 billion, an 18 percent premium.

The SEC said Khan, Chaganlal and Akbari live in Dublin, California, where Ross is based, while Mendonsa lives in nearby San Ramon. It said they invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during the agency's probe.

Khan's lawyer, Chris Cannon, said: "Saleem has made hundreds of short-term trades in Ross, many of which were unprofitable, and if he were trading on inside tips he would have been able to avoid the unprofitable trades."

Martin Sabelli, a lawyer for Chaganlal, declined to comment. Lawyers for Mendonsa and Akbari were not available to comment. Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined to comment.

The SEC civil lawsuit seeks to recoup illegal profit and fines. It also seeks an officer-and-director bar for Chaganlal, whose employment was terminated by Ross in December 2012.

The case is SEC v. Khan et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-02743. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)

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