SEC, DOJ Paint Insider Trading Picture of Sherwin-Valspar Analyst

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By Jennifer Bennett

An S&P Global analyst and two friends who worked as a hair salon manager and a jeweler allegedly engaged in insider trading prior to the 2016 merger between Sherwin-Williams and Valspar, the Justice Department and the SEC said.

S&P Global Inc. credit ratings analyst Sebastian Pinto-Thomaz allegedly tipped two friends, Abell Oujaddou and Jeremy Millul, before knowledge of Sherwin-Williams Co.'s 2016 acquisition of Valspar Corp. became public, according to June 26 DOJ and Securities and Exchange Commission complaints. Oujaddou, a hair salon manager, and Millul, a jeweler, then traded on the information for nearly $300,000 in combined profits, the complaints in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said.

The DOJ charged the three men with securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud for insider trading. The SEC also alleged securities fraud in a parallel civil complaint. Attorneys for Pinto-Thomaz, Oujaddou, and Millul couldn’t be identified for comment.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in June 2016 sent S&P Global employees who worked on the Sherwin-Williams and Valspar merger a list of everyone who traded before the merger became public, the DOJ said in a statement. Employees were asked if they recognized any names on the list. Millul and Oujaddou’s names were on the list, and Pinto-Thomaz — despite being related to Oujaddou and close friends with Millul — said no.

“Pinto-Thomaz’s tips violated his obligations to his employer and allowed his friends to reap nearly $300,000 in illicit trading profits,” Joseph G. Sansone, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit, said in a statement. “Employees of credit ratings agencies often receive confidential corporate information ahead of mergers, acquisitions, and other market-moving events, and, similar to investment bankers, attorneys, and other corporate advisors, must not abuse this access by trading on the information or by tipping others.”

The cases are United States v. Pinto-Thomaz , S.D.N.Y., No. 18-mag-5432, complaint filed 6/26/18 and SEC v. Pinto-Thomaz , S.D.N.Y., No. 1:18-cv-05757, complaint filed 6/26/18 .

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Bennett in Washington at jbennett@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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