Former financial chief cleared of insider trading

The former financial director of the Zurich insurance group, Markus Rohrbasser, has been acquitted of charges of insider trading. A court in Zurich ruled there was not sufficient proof of premeditated illegal dealing.

This content was published on February 9, 2000 - 10:04

The former financial director of the Zurich insurance group, Markus Rohrbasser, has been acquitted of charges of insider trading. A court in Zurich ruled there was not sufficient proof of premeditated illegal dealing.

Rohrbasser was accused of using knowledge of an impending merger with the British BAT group in 1997 to make SFr237,000 in a share deal.

The insider-trading case was the first in Switzerland to be brought against a top manager.

The prosecutor had called for a suspended sentence, a fine of SFr150,000 and the return of the funds allegedly obtained through insider trading.

Rohrbasser had pleaded not guilty. The defence had maintained Rohrbasser was not in possession of sufficient information to influence the value of the shares.

Speaking during the trial, the prosecutor, Christian 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. Rohrbasser said he could not remember signing a secrecy document.

Weber 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 told the authorities about his dealings.

From staff and wire reports

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