SEC Freezes Assets of Insider Traders in Onyx Pharmaceuticals Options

SEC v. One or More Unknown Traders in the Securities of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Case No. 13 CIV 4645 (S.D.N.Y.).  On July 9, 2013, the SEC announced it obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of traders using foreign accounts who traded in the securities in Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. based on inside information.  The SEC alleges that on June 30, 2013, Onyx announced that it had received, but rejected, an offer from Amgen to buy all of Onyx’s outstanding stock.  Onyx also announced that it authorized its financial advisors to seek potential acquirers.  After the announcement, Onyx’s share price soared by more than 50%.  According to the SEC, unknown traders had inside information about the offer to acquire Onyx and bought risky call options in the days preceding the announcement.  The SEC alleges that the purchases were suspicious because they represented significant increases in the number of call options purchased.  Lastly, the SEC claims that the traders made about $4.6 million in profits over a three-day period.  The emergency court order obtained by the SEC freezes the traders’ assets related to the Onyx call options transactions and prohibits the traders from destroying any evidence.  The SEC charged the unknown traders with violating Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Exchange Act Rule 10b-5.   In addition to the emergency relief, the SEC is also seeking injunctive relief, civil monetary penalties, and disgorgement.

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