(Reuters) - Federal prosecutors issued a subpoena late last month to closeout retailer Big Lots Inc seeking documents relating to trades in the company’s stock made by its chief executive, the company said.
The subpoena from the U.S. attorney’s office in New York regarding trades by CEO Steven Fishman was received on November 29, the company said in a regulatory filing late Wednesday.
“We are fully cooperating with the U.S. Attorney in connection with the subpoena,” the company said. “We also understand that the SEC has initiated an inquiry into this matter, but we have not yet received a document request from the SEC.”
A company spokesman referred further questions to general counsel Charles Haubiel, who could not immediately be reached for comment.
The company said on Tuesday that Fishman would retire for personal reasons, but would remain in the top role until a replacement is found.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating the sale. The trades were highlighted last week in a front-page WSJ story that said Fishman had sold $10 million of his stock a month before Big Lots reported a surprise quarterly loss that sent its shares down nearly 25 percent in a day. (link.reuters.com/set44t )
The company told the Journal that the stock sale was made “at a time when the company’s trading window was open.” However, Fishman’s March trade - the subject of the SEC probe - was not made using a 10b5-1 plan, the company said.
The SEC allows company executives to trade their own stock by using a preset plan known as “10b5-1,” even when they have access to private information.
Haubiel said on Wednesday that Fishman’s departure was unrelated to the SEC investigation.
A spokesman for the SEC and a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in New York declined to comment.
Reporting By Brad Dorfman; Editing by Tim Dobbyn