U.S. authorities brought charges against three men in connection with an alleged insider trading scheme involving a couple of M&A deals, including a failed bid for Canadian cannabis firm Aphria Inc.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged the trio and two investment vehicles with allegedly violating federal securities laws by trading on inside information in advance of two ultimately failed M&A deals — Green Growth Brand’s attempted takeover of Aphria in late 2018, and a proposed merger between Albertsons Companies, Inc. and Rite Aid — along with an earnings announcement by DSW Inc.
At the same time, the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts also charged two of the men with securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud over the same conduct.
The allegations have not been proven.
The U.S. attorney’s office said that one of the accused, the alleged source of several insider tips — David Schottenstein — agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Schottenstein “obtained the information from a cousin who served on the board of directors of both DSW and the company that had attempted to acquire Aphria, and whose family owned a private business that was involved in the Rite Aid transaction.”
Trading on the inside information allegedly netted several million dollars in illicit profits.
“Traders who seek to profit from inside information are no match for the SEC’s sophisticated data analysis methods like the ones used to uncover this alleged insider trading ring,” said Joseph Sansone, chief of the SEC enforcement division’s market abuse unit.
Aphria ultimately consummated a merger with another cannabis company, Tilray Inc., last year.