Bristol-Myers Squibb Executive Arrested on Insider Trading Charges
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 02, 2012|
NEWARK, NJ—An executive with global pharmaceuticals giant Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMS) was arrested this morning on insider trading charges related to illegal trades he made based on information concerning three BMS acquisition targets, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Robert Ramnarine, 45, of East Brunswick, New Jersey, was charged in a criminal complaint with three counts of securities fraud. Ramnarine was arrested this morning by agents of the FBI and is scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court.
According to the complaint unsealed today:
Ramnarine has been employed by BMS since 1997, and from March 2008 to the present, held a variety of high-level, executive positions at the company, including director of pensions and savings investments (March 2008-June 2011), executive director of pensions and savings investments (June 2011-July 2012), and assistant treasurer for capital markets (since July 2012). As a result of these positions, Ramnarine was involved in evaluating potential BMS acquisition targets, including publicly traded companies, and was privy to inside company information concerning such transactions. At all times, he owed a fiduciary duty of trust and confidence to BMS not to disclose confidential information and material, non-public information he learned through his employment with BMS or to use such information for his personal benefit or the benefit of others.
Between August 2010 and June 2012, however, Ramnarine traded on material, non-public information regarding BMS’s anticipated acquisitions of the following publicly traded companies: ZymoGenentics Inc., Pharmasset Inc., and Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. The material, non-public information available to Ramnarine enabled him to reap substantial profits by engaging in lucrative trading in stock options of these companies shortly before they were either acquired by BMS, as in the cases of ZymoGenetics and Amylin, or by another company, as in the case of Pharmasset. Ramnarine generated approximately $311,361 in illicit profits pursuant to this scheme.
While trading on inside information he obtained through his work at BMS, Ramnarine attempted to conceal his illegal trading activities. In November 2011, Ramnarine learned that Pharmasset was participating in a limited auction process, whereby it would be sold to the highest bidder, and that the auction would close on November 17, 2011. Before trading ahead of the sale of Pharmasset, however, Ramnarine conducted numerous Yahoo! Internet searches from his work computer concerning means to avoid detection for insider trading, including the following terms: “can option be traced to purchaser”; “can stock option be traced to purchase inside trading”; and “insider trading options traceillegal [sic].” Based on these searches, as well as others between November 2, 2011, and November 3, 2011, Ramnarine visited a number of websites and viewed articles discussing the purpose of insider trading laws, examples of insider trading violations, as well as ways to avoid insider trading violations.
The securities fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $5,000,000.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, in Newark, with the ongoing investigation leading to the criminal complaint. He also thanked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Market Abuse Unit and Philadelphia Regional Office, under the direction of Daniel M. Hawke for its assistance, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. for its cooperation during the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gurbir S. Grewal and Mala Harker of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.