Published on Jun 15th, 2015 | Posted in Articles

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that a Swiss trader has agreed to pay more than $2.8 million to settle charges that he traded on nonpublic information ahead of a Florida-based biometrics company’s acquisition by Apple Inc.

A SEC investigation found that Helmut Anscheringer purchased stock and call options in AuthenTec Inc. upon learning from a longtime friend related to an AuthenTec executive that Apple proposed to buy the company, which provided fingerprint sensors and software for use in electronic devices.  The call options accounted for nearly all of the series volume on the days he purchased them.  Just days later, AuthenTec publicly announced that it had agreed to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Apple for $355 million in cash.  The positive news led to the stock price closing approximately 60 percent higher than the previous day.  Through his unlawful trading, Anscheringer garnered more than $1.8 million in illicit profits.

“Anscheringer attempted to profit by freely trading on inside information,” said Glenn Gordon, Associate Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office.  “Foreign traders in U.S. stocks are not exempt from SEC scrutiny as we traced the misconduct back to Anscheringer when investigating these significant purchases in a trading account belonging to an entity in the British Virgin Islands for which he was listed as the beneficiary.” 

The SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding finds that Anscheringer, who lives in Basel, Switzerland, violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  Without admitting or denying the findings, Anscheringer agreed to pay disgorgement of $1,820,024, prejudgment interest of $121,732, and a penalty of $910,012 for a total of $2,851,768.  He must cease and desist from committing or causing any violations and any future violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.

The SEC’s continuing investigation is being conducted by Sunny H. Kim and Kathleen E. Strandell in the Miami Regional Office with assistance from Mathew Wong of the Market Abuse Unit in the New York Regional Office.  The case is being supervised by Jason R. Berkowitz and the litigation is being led by Robert K. Levenson.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, Options Regulatory Surveillance Authority, and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.