SEC Freezes Assets of Insider Traders in Nexen Acquisition

SEC v. Well Advantage Limited, et al.  The SEC is continuing its pursuit of insider traders, obtaining an emergency asset freeze on traders’ assets.  On July 27, 2012, the SEC filed a complaint against Well Advantage Limited, Certain Unknown Traders in the Securities of Nexen, Inc. in an Account of Phillip Securities PTE LTD., and Certain Unknown Traders in the Securities of Nexen, Inc. in an Account of Citibank NA A/C HK 4.  The case involves highly suspicious and highly profitable trading by the Defendants in the securities of Nexen, Inc. (“Nexen”) just prior to the July 23, 2012, announcement that the Chinese energy company CNOOC Limited (“CNOOC”) had agreed to acquire Nexen, a Canadian energy company, for $27.50 per share (the “Announcement”), representing a premium of 61 percent over Nexen stock’s closing price on Friday, July 20, 2012.  As a result of the Announcement, Nexen’s stock price on July 23 rose approximately 52 percent over the previous trading day’s closing price, allowing the Defendants to reap substantial profits.  The Defendants in this action are either foreign traders or traders trading through foreign accounts whose timely purchases of shares of Nexen stock generated realized and unrealized profits totaling over $13 million.  Defendants are either located, or trading through accounts located, in Hong Kong and/or Singapore.  Each Defendant purchased Nexen stock while in the possession of material, nonpublic information concerning CNOOC’s proposed acquisition of Nexen.  Each Defendant’s trading in Nexen stock is highly suspicious.  Specifically, all or nearly all of the Defendants’ purchases of Nexen stock occurred during the last seven trading days before the Announcement, and the accounts used for such purchases had either no history or extremely limited history of buying shares of Nexen stock prior to July 2012.  Further, Defendant Well Advantage’s owner is also the controlling shareholder of a Hong Kong-based company that engages in significant business activities with CNOOC.  Defendants are charged with violating Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 thereunder.  In addition to the asset freeze, the SEC is seeking civil monetary penalties, disgorgement with prejudgment interest and injunctive relief.

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