The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a Chicago-based management consultant with insider trading based on confidential information about his client’s impending takeover of a Long Island-based vitamin company.
The SEC alleges that Sherif Mityas and others at his global management consulting firm were retained by Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm The Carlyle Group to provide strategic advice related to the acquisition of NBTY Inc. That same month, Mityas purchased NBTY stock and subsequently tipped a relative who also bought NBTY shares. After Carlyle publicly announced its acquisition of NBTY, Mityas and his relative sold their NBTY stock for a combined profit of nearly $38,000.
Mityas, who is a partner and vice president at the firm, has agreed to pay more than $78,000 to settle the SEC’s charges. In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York today announced the unsealing of criminal charges against Mityas.
“Mityas was entrusted with highly confidential information but, driven by greed, he violated that trust and jeopardized a successful consulting career for the chance to make a quick buck,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, Deputy Chief of the SEC’s Market Abuse Unit and Associate Director of the New York Regional Office. “Corporate transactions such as mergers and acquisitions demand confidentiality until they become public, and not just from company employees but also from the lawyers, accountants, consultants, and others who work on the deals.”
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Mityas’s firm was retained by Carlyle in May 2010. Only five days after being told during a May 17 conference call that NBTY was Carlyle’s acquisition target, Mityas moved $50,000 from a bank account he shared with a relative into a brokerage account they shared. On May 27, he transferred $49,000 from that brokerage account to a different relative’s brokerage account that he controlled as custodian, and then used those funds to purchase 1,300 shares of NBTY at a cost of more than $44,000. On July 7, based on a tip from Mityas, yet another relative bought 440 shares of NBTY stock. That same relative bought an additional 210 shares on July 14. Carlyle’s acquisition of NBTY was publicly announced the following day. Mityas sold all of his shares only three hours after the announcement was made, for an illegal profit of $25,896. The relative held the shares purchased on July 7 and 14 through the completion of the merger, and sold all of the shares on October 1 for an illicit profit of $12,035.
The SEC’s complaint charges Mityas with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5. The settlement, which is subject to court approval, would require Mityas to pay disgorgement of his and his relative’s ill-gotten gains totaling $37,931, plus prejudgment interest of $2,375.39, and a penalty of $37,931. The settlement also would bar Mityas from serving as an officer or director of a public company and permanently enjoin him from future violations of these provisions of the federal securities laws.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Daniel R. Marcus and Amelia A. Cottrell – members of the SEC’s Market Abuse Unit in New York – and Layla Mayer of the SEC’s New York Regional Office. The SEC acknowledges the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
The SEC’s investigation is continuing.