Court filing: SEC has identity of person who made suspicious trades before $28 billion Heinz deal

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A Cayman Islands holding company claims the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission knows who made suspicious trades the day before the sale of the H.J. Heinz Co. was announced.

An attorney representing Alpine Swift Ltd. made a case for dropping a complaint against the holdings company in filings Monday in a New York federal court, saying the Alpine Swift's account was used to make an unauthorized trade that reaped $1.7 million in profits on the Heinz deal.

The filings by Washington, D.C., attorney Juan P. Morillo follow a court hearing last week in which a U.S. district judge set a February date for a pretrial hearing in the case. The SEC alleges unnamed traders made unusual trades Feb. 13, the day before Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital announced a plan to buy the Pittsburgh food company for about $28 billion.

In August, Alpine Swift was served with the complaint.

This week's court filings describe Alpine Swift as a limited liability investment holding company incorporated in the Cayman Islands in 2010. Its directors live in Switzerland. Alpine is owned by the Troika Trust, a trust meant for use in succession planning. An independent investment adviser is responsible for investing its assets.

According to the Alpine court filings, the investment adviser's principal is a Brazilian citizen and resident. The court documents did not name the individual.

"After the SEC filed its complaint, Alpine was informed that, on Feb. 13, 2013, an individual (the trader) orally instructed the bank to purchase 2,533 Heinz call options (the Heinz transaction) through Alpine's account," the motion said. "This individual did not have a power of attorney or other authority to place transactions in Alpine's account and placed the Heinz transaction without Alpine's knowledge."

Mr. Morillo's filings claim the company learned about the incident after the SEC won an emergency freeze order Feb. 15 of assets related to the Heinz purchase in an account held by Goldman Sachs & Co. in Zurich.

Because of Swiss law, Alpine claims it was not allowed to disclose its identity to the SEC directly. The SEC only learned that from the Swiss government through a legal cooperation process, according to the motion.

"In July 2013, FINMA (the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority) delivered to the SEC nearly 800 pages of documents related to the Alpine account and the circumstances of the Heinz transaction," according to the motion. "These documents clearly identified the trader who placed the Heinz transaction."

However, the motion claims, the SEC served the complaint on Alpine and did not add the trader. The filing asks that any complaints against Alpine be dismissed.

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Teresa F. Lindeman: tlindeman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2018. First Published September 17, 2013 2:00 PM


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