Litigation Release No. 22522 / October 26, 2012

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Van Gilder, Civil Action 12-CV-2839 (D.Colo.) (JLK)

SEC Charges Denver-Based Insurance Executive With Insider Trading

On October 26, 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged an insurance company CEO with insider trading based on confidential information he obtained in advance of a private investment firm acquiring a significant stake in a Denver-based oil and gas company.

The SEC alleges that Michael Van Gilder learned from a Delta Petroleum Corporation insider that Beverly Hills-based Tracinda â€" which has previously owned large portions of companies such as MGM Resorts International, General Motors, and Ford Motor Company â€" was planning to acquire a 35 percent stake in Delta Petroleum for $684 million. Van Gilder subsequently purchased Delta Petroleum stock and highly speculative options contracts. He tipped several others, encouraging them to do the same, including a pair of relatives via an e-mail with the subject line "Xmas present." After Tracinda's investment was publicly announced, Delta Petroleum's stock price shot up by almost 20 percent. Van Gilder and his tippees made more than $161,000 in illegal trading profits.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado today announced a parallel criminal action against Van Gilder.

According to the SEC's complaint filed in federal court in Denver, Van Gilder is the CEO of Van Gilder Insurance Company. He obtained the confidential information about Tracinda's proposed investment and loaded up on Delta Petroleum stock and options in November and December 2007. He then tipped his broker, a co-worker, and relatives.

The SEC alleges that a mere two minutes after speaking to his source at Delta Petroleum on December 22, Van Gilder e-mailed two relatives with the "Xmas present" subject line and stated, "my present (just kidding) is that I can't stress enough the opportunity right now to buy Delta Petroleum." That same day, Van Gilder contacted his broker and arranged to purchase more Delta stock and options for himself. Following the public announcement, Van Gilder reaped approximately $109,000 in illegal profits and his broker, co-worker, and a relative made approximately $52,000.

The SEC's complaint charges Van Gilder with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, and seeks a final judgment ordering him to disgorge his and his tippees' ill-gotten gains and pay prejudgment interest and a financial penalty, and permanently enjoining him from future violations of these provisions of the federal securities laws.