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SEC Charges Credit Ratings Analyst And Two Friends With Insider Trading

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged a credit ratings agency employee with tipping two friends about The Sherwin-Williams Co.'s confidential plans to acquire The Valspar Corp., which he learned of through his work. The SEC also charged the two friends with trading on the illicit tips, which reaped them substantial profits.

According to the SEC's complaint, Sebastian Pinto-Thomaz, an analyst in the credit ratings agency's New York office, learned of the acquisition when Sherwin-Williams consulted the agency about the potential effect of the transaction on its credit rating. The SEC alleges that soon after, Pinto-Thomaz tipped his friends, who bought Valspar securities before the merger was announced. Valspar's shares rose 23 percent on the news and the friends, Abell Oujaddou, a co-owner and co-manager of an upscale New York hair salon, and Jeremy Millul, a New York jeweler, sold their holdings and respectively made approximately $192,000 and $107,000 in profits.

The SEC's complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, charges Pinto Thomaz, Oujaddou, and Millul with fraud and seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, prejudgment interest, penalties, and injunctive relief. In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York today announced criminal charges against Pinto-Thomaz, Oujaddou, and Millul.

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