WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. securities regulators on Thursday sued a former stockbroker who worked for Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (MS.N), accusing him of insider trading ahead of a Burger King Worldwide Inc BKW.N deal.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said it obtained a court order freezing the assets of broker Waldyr Da Silva Prado Neto, who allegedly put his Miami home up for sale and began transferring his assets out of the country.
Prado worked for Wells Fargo in Miami when he learned from a brokerage customer that Burger King would be acquired by private equity firm 3G Capital Partners Ltd, the SEC said.
Prado used the information to net $175,000 in illicit profits by trading in the stock, the SEC said.
Prado also tipped off others about the acquisition, the SEC said.
In May 2010, for example, he emailed a customer and said in Portuguese, "... if you are around call me at the hotel ... I have some info ... You have to hear this," according to SEC documents.
The two spoke by phone and the customer purchased out-of-the-money Burger King call options during the next two days, the SEC said.
"Prado's emails and other communications may have been sent from Brazil and written in Portuguese, but our commitment to prosecute illegal insider trading on U.S. markets knows no geographic or language barrier," said Sanjay Wadhwa, deputy chief of the SEC enforcement division's market abuse unit.
A lawyer for Prado could not immediately be reached for comment.
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman said his employment with the company had been terminated. A Wells Fargo spokesman said the bank was cooperating with the SEC in its investigation. A Burger King representative had no immediate comment.
Reporting By Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Andre Grenon