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U.S. Asks Swiss for Help in Triangle Investigation

From Reuters

Swiss government officials said today the United States has asked for their assistance in a probe of possible insider trading in Triangle Industries Inc. shares in advance of its acquisition last November.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission told Switzerland on Dec. 16 that it suspected insiders were at work shortly before France’s state-owned Pechiney SA launched a $1.26-billion bid for Triangle, a major New York-based packaging company, in November.

The Swiss government has frozen an unspecified number of accounts at Swiss Volksbank, Union Bank of Switzerland, Banca della Svizzera Italiana and the Vaud Cantonal Bank pending a formal request for legal assistance from the SEC, a Justice Ministry official said. She declined to identify their owners.

The SEC had alerted France to a tenfold jump in Triangle share trading the week before Pechiney’s agreed takeover was announced. Pechiney paid $56 a share for stock for which French investors had paid around $10.50 the week before.

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Trade in Triangle totaled 200,000 shares for the three-day period between Nov. 16 and Nov. 18, whereas normal daily trading in Triangle shares on the New York over-the-counter market averaged between 5,000 and 20,000 shares. Pechiney’s bid was announced on Nov. 21.

French regulatory officials investigating the case have said more than five but less than 10 French operators bought Triangle shares, but have declined to identify them.

Paris banking sources said Triangle buy orders had also been placed through Britain, Luxembourg and Switzerland on behalf of French investors.

The SEC and officials from its French counterpart, the COB, were to meet in Paris to coordinate the expanded investigation of the trading.

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