U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Washington, D.C.

Litigation Release No.16870 / January 24, 2001

Securities and Exchange Commission v. One or More Unknown Traders of Options on Common Stock of Ralston Purina Co., 01 Civ. 0339 (JSM) (S.D.N.Y.)

SEC Freezes Additional Assets Based on Alleged Insider Trading from Overseas Before Announcement of Nestlé-Ralston Purina Merger

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a modified temporary restraining order yesterday afternoon in the Commission's case alleging insider trading in Ralston Purina securities before the January 16, 2001 announcement that Nestlé S.A. would acquire Ralston Purina. The modified TRO freezes additional assets of the original unknown traders as well as assets of new traders, known and unknown, who are described in an amended complaint the Commission filed yesterday. The total potential dollar amount of assets currently frozen by the modified TRO is $1,841,000.

The Commission's amended complaint adds allegations of insider trading in options on Ralston Purina stock by Midpoint Trading Corporation, a foreign corporation which apparently has offices in Switzerland and the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, and by unknown persons who traded through a third Swiss bank. In addition, the amended complaint adds allegations of insider trading in Ralston Purina stock by unknown persons at or through a Swiss corporation, Selvi & Cie, and unknown persons at or through a Monte Carlo entity, Gerance International.

The asset freeze is in place pending a hearing on the Commission's application for a preliminary injunction on Friday, January 26, 2001.

The Commission's investigation is continuing.

The Commission acknowledges the assistance of the New York Stock Exchange, and the continuing assistance of the Chicago Board Options Exchange, in this matter.