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Former director accused of insider trading

The former financial director of the Zurich insurance group, Markus Rohrbasser, has appeared in court on charges of insider trading. He is accused of using knowledge of an impending merger with the British BAT group in 1997 to make SFr237,000.

This content was published on February 2, 2000 - 13:58

The former financial director of the Zurich insurance group, Markus Rohrbasser, has appeared in court on charges of insider trading. He is accused of using knowledge of an impending merger with the British BAT group in 1997 to make SFr237,000 in a share deal.

Speaking in the Zurich court at the start of the trial, the prosecutor, Christian Weber, said the court should fine him SFr150,000 as well as make him hand over the profit. The indictment also calls for a seven-month suspended sentence against Rohrbasser.

Weber said Rohrbasser was informed about the merger plans at a meeting in London in April 1997. On May 20, he signed a document pledging not to divulge the information and not to trade in shares of either company.

Weber said at the latest from this moment on, Rohrbasser was aware that any trading in Zurich insurance stock was illegal and punishable.

However, he said Zurich's financial chief had bought share options worth SFr150,000 on June 12, and sold them one month later for an extra SFr104,000. He said Rohrbasser acquired share options on three other occasions before September 2, and sold them at a total profit of SFr133,000 over the next 18 months.

The merger was not announced until October 12, 1997, after which the Zurich authorities launched an investigation into suspected insider trading. Rohrbasser resigned from his post in October 1998, and confessed his dealings to the authorities.

However, he pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial, saying he could not remember signing a secrecy document.

From staff and wire reports

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