SEC Charges Corporate Communications Specialist with Insider Trading Ahead of Acquisition Announcement

Litigation Release No. 24065 / March 8, 2018

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Robert M. Morano, No. 3:18-cv-00386 (D. Ore. filed Mar. 5, 2018)

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged a former communications specialist with insider trading based on nonpublic information he learned about an impending acquisition of the company where he worked.

The SEC alleges that Robert M. Morano, a former employee of UTi Worldwide, Inc., obtained more than $38,000 in illegal profits by purchasing shares in the company before it and DSV Air & Sea Holdings A/V jointly announced UTi's acquisition. According to the SEC's complaint, Morano, who was responsible for helping the company publish press releases and other communications, learned confidential details about the planned acquisition the day before it was publicly announced and immediately bought approximately 17,500 shares of UTi in three brokerage accounts. The next day, after DSV and UTi's announcement was made public, UTi's shares increased over 50% on heavy trading, and Morano sold all of his shares.

The SEC's complaint, filed in federal court in Oregon on March 5, 2018, charges Morano with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The SEC is seeking an injunction, disgorgement plus interest, and a penalty.

The SEC's case is being led by Brian T. Fitzsimons, and supervised by Brian O. Quinn, Jan M. Folena, and Scott W. Friestad. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.