The Securities and Exchange Commission filed an insider trading lawsuit in connection with the recent purchase of U.S. underwater oil services company Global Industries Ltd (GLBL.O) by France's Technip SA (TECF.PA).
One or more unnamed defendants bought 685,840 Global Industries shares on the two trading days immediately before Technip said on September 12 that it would buy the company for $937 million, or $8 per share, a 55 percent premium, the SEC said.
These defendants then realized $1.73 million of illegal profit by selling all their shares, according to the complaint, filed late Friday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
The SEC said the purchases were made through an account in the name of Austria's Raiffeisen Bank International AG (RBIV.VI) held at broker-dealer Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
The SEC on Monday said it won a court order freezing assets related to the trades, and requiring the defendants to identify themselves and blocking them from destroying documents.
It said the suspicious purchases accounted for about 10 percent of Global Industries' daily trading volume, though there had at the time been no major public news about the Carlyss, Louisiana-based company.
This suggests that information about the merger "was obtained as a result of breaches of fiduciary duty," the SEC said.
The complaint seeks to force the defendants to give up their illegal profit and pay civil fines.
Raiffeisen had no immediate comment on the lawsuit. A Brown Brothers Harriman spokeswoman said that company does not discuss litigation that may involve a client. Global Industries did not respond to a request for comment.
Technip designs and builds industrial installations, such as subsea equipment and platforms and onshore complexes, for the oil, gas and petrochemical industries.
The case is SEC v. One or More Unknown Purchasers of Securities of Global Industries Ltd, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-06500.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Angelika Gruber and Michael Shields in Vienna; editing by Tim Dobbyn, John Wallace, Phil Berlowitz)