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The Securities and Exchange Commission filed insider trading charges against anonymous traders who allegedly made more than $300,000 from confidential information regarding Nestl� SA’s $10.3 billion bid for Ralston Purina Co. The complaint, filed late Wednesday in federal court in New York, alleges that the anonymous traders made highly profitable purchases of call options and sales of put options on the common stock of Ralston Purina through Swiss bank accounts from November until this month. The SEC filed the complaint to prevent the traders — whom the commission said it had not identified — from collecting any money from the trades, said Larry West, an assistant director in the SEC’s enforcement division. The SEC has asked the U.S.-based broker-dealers in the transactions — Salomon Smith Barney Inc. and Carr Futures Inc. — to alert the Swiss banks to the inquiry so they may ask the traders to identify themselves. If they do not, they must abandon their profits because such monies cannot be claimed anonymously, West said. Swiss law prohibits the SEC from contacting the Swiss banks directly. Merger discussions between the Swiss food giant and the St. Louis pet-products company began shortly before November. On Tuesday, the companies announced Nestl� would pay 15.7 times Ebitda for Ralston Purina. At the time the anonymous traders purchased the call options and sold the put options, “They were in possession of material, nonpublic information about the impending announcement of Ralston Purina’s merger with Nestl�,” the SEC complaint alleges. Copyright (c)2001 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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