U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 23316 / August 13, 2015
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Cedric Cañas Maillard, Civil Action No. 15-cv-6380 (S.D.N.Y.)
SEC Files Case Against Former Banco Santander Official for Insider Trading
The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed insider trading charges against a former high-ranking executive at Madrid-based Banco Santander, S.A. for trading based on material, nonpublic information about a proposed acquisition for which the Spanish investment bank was acting as an advisor and underwriter.
The SEC's complaint alleges that Cedric Cañas Maillard, a Spanish citizen and former executive advisor to Banco Santander's CEO, learned confidentially that the investment bank had been asked by one of the world's largest mining companies, BHP Billiton, to advise and help underwrite its proposed acquisition of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, one of the world's largest producers of fertilizer minerals. The SEC alleges that Cañas coordinated with a close friend to purchase Potash call options in a Switzerland-based brokerage account, of which Cañas was the sole beneficial owner, on August 16, 2010-the day before Potash announced that it had rejected BHP's acquisition bid. Potash stock rose more than 27% after that announcement, and Cañas sold the Potash call options three days after he purchased them for illicit net profits of $278,156.97, a gain of more than 1,400%.
The SEC previously charged Cañas with committing insider trading before the same announcement by trading Contracts-for-Difference (CFDs). After Cañas settled the prior case, the Commission staff continued to investigate other suspicious Potash trades in foreign accounts. Commission staff obtained evidence a few weeks ago revealing that Cañas was the sole beneficial owner of the Switzerland-based account that purchased options before the announcement. The SEC complaint alleges that Cañas coordinated with a friend to purchase Potash call options in that account before the public announcement of BHP's acquisition bid. Cañas and his friend rushed to fund the account and place the trades days prior to the announcement. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that Cañas violated Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-3, and seeks disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest and financial penalties.
The SEC's prior complaint alleged that Cañas traded CFDs equivalent to 30,000 shares and tipped his friend, Julio Marín Ugedo, in advance of the Potash announcement. To settle that action, Cañas consented, without admitting or denying the allegations, to a judgment permanently enjoining him from violating Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Exchange Act and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-3 thereunder and ordering him to pay disgorgement of $960,806 and a civil penalty of $960,806. Pursuant to the Consent that Cañas signed in that action, the settlement resolved only the claims related to the specific trades identified in that complaint.
The SEC's investigation has been conducted jointly by staff in the Enforcement Division's Market Abuse Unit, the Chicago Regional Office, and the Denver Regional Office, including Kathryn A. Pyszka, Frank D. Goldman, and R. Kevin Barrett. The case was supervised by Robert Cohen and Joseph Sansone, acting co-chiefs of the Market Abuse Unit, and Timothy Warren, Associate Director of the Chicago Regional Office. The litigation is being handled by Ms. Pyszka and Mr. Goldman. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority and the Spanish Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores.