On June 6, 2013, the SEC announced an emergency court order to freeze the assets of a trader in Bangkok, Thailand, who made more than $3 million in profits by trading in advance of last week’s announcement that Smithfield Foods agreed to a multi-billion dollar acquisition by China-based Shuanghui International Holdings.
The SEC alleged that Badin Rungruangnavarat purchased thousands of out-of-the-money Smithfield call options and single-stock futures contracts from May 21 to May 28 in an account at Interactive Brokers LLC. Rungruangnavarat allegedly made these purchases based on material, nonpublic information about the potential acquisition, and among his possible sources is a Facebook friend who is an associate director at an investment bank to a different company that was exploring an acquisition of Smithfield. After profiting from his timely and aggressive trading, Rungruangnavarat sought to withdraw more than $3 million from his account on June 3.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed under seal in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Smithfield publicly announced on May 29 that Shuanghui agreed to acquire the company for $4.7 billion, which would represent the largest-ever acquisition of a U.S. company by a Chinese buyer. Smithfield, which is headquartered in Smithfield, Va., is the world’s largest pork producer and processor. Following the announcement, Smithfield stock opened nearly 25 percent higher than the previous day’s closing price.
The SEC obtained the emergency court order late on June 5, 2013 on an ex parte basis. The order froze the proceeds of Rungruangnavarat’s securities purchases, granted expedited discovery, and prohibited Rungruangnavarat from destroying evidence.
The SEC’s complaint alleged that Rungruangnavarat violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. In addition to the emergency relief, the SEC is seeking disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest, a financial penalty, and a permanent injunction.