Ex-Goldman analyst, others accused of inside trades

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. regulators on Wednesday filed civil charges for insider trading against 11 people, including a 26-year-old former Goldman Sachs Group Inc GS.N investment banking analyst accused of leaking confidential merger information to his brother.

The charges against five of the defendants involve trading ahead of the announcement last year that Liberty Mutual Insurance Company would buy Safeco Corp, a Seattle-based insurer, for $6.2 billion.

The other charges, against six different defendants, involve trading ahead of the buyout of Neff Corp, a Miami-based rental equipment company, by private equity firm Odyssey Investment Partners LLC, announced in 2005. These cases are unrelated to the lawsuits stemming from the Safeco trades.

Regulators said they uncovered the activity through surveillance of unusual trades.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said Anthony Perez, formerly a junior analyst with Goldman Sachs in New York, illegally tipped his brother, Ian, with material nonpublic information that he learned from his job about the potential acquisition of Safeco in April 2008.

Ian Perez, 23, of Orlando, traded Safeco call options on the illicit information and made more than $150,000, the SEC contends in papers filed in federal court in Orlando.

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The SEC said the Perez brothers have agreed to settle the case without admitting or denying the allegations. Anthony Perez will pay a penalty of $25,000 and Ian Perez agreed to pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest totaling $152,992.

Their lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.

Anthony Perez, of Maitland, Florida, worked with Goldman’s financial institutions group in New York from July 2007 to May 2008, according to the SEC’s lawsuit.

A Goldman spokesman, Ed Canaday, said on Wednesday that the analyst was fired immediately after the firm learned of the SEC matter.

Separately, the SEC accused Math Hipp Jr. of Seattle of insider trading in Safeco call options based on confidential information he misappropriated from his wife, an executive assistant at the insurer. Hipp made more than $118,000 through his trading, the SEC said.

Hipp will pay $239,770 to settle the SEC’s charges, without admitting or denying the allegations, the agency said. His lawyer declined to comment.

Among the other cases was a lawsuit against Peter Talbot, of Springfield, Massachusetts, a former analyst at a subsidiary of The Hartford Financial Services Group, whom the SEC accused of illegally tipping his nephew after he learned at work that Safeco was a takeover target.

The two bought Safeco call options and sold them for a profit of more than $615,000, the SEC said.

Talbot’s lawyer said his client was disappointed that the SEC had filed the case, and that the investment decision Talbot’s family made was based upon publicly available information.

Reporting by Martha Graybow; Editing by Matt Daily and Steve Orlofsky