Login Register Subscribe
Current Issue

SEC accuses Heinz guard of insider trading before Berkshire-3G deal

Reprints

(Reuters) — A former H.J. Heinz Co. director's security guard was charged on Wednesday with insider trading in the ketchup maker's stock and options before Heinz was bought in 2013 by Brazil's 3G Capital and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

In a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said Todd David Alpert made $43,873 of illegal profit after learning of the proposed Heinz takeover while working as a dispatcher for the director, who sat on Heinz's board for several years.

It was unclear whether Mr. Alpert, of Kingston, Pennsylvania, had hired a lawyer, and the defendant could not immediately be reached for comment.

The director was not identified in court papers. Heinz's board had since 2006 included Nelson Peltz, the activist investor. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Berkshire, 3G and the former Heinz director have not been accused of wrongdoing by the SEC.

According to the regulator, Mr. Alpert had since January 2011 worked for a security company to provide services to the Heinz director and his family, and worked in a security booth at a home for the director where he reported "almost daily."

Public records show a shared historical address for Messrs. Peltz and Alpert in a northern suburb of New York City.

Part of Mr. Alpert's job was to screen emails sent through a secure account, including a "confidential" Jan. 24, 2013 email that contained Berkshire's and 3G's offer to buy Heinz for the eventual $72.50 per share takeover price, the SEC said.

Mr. Alpert began buying Heinz through his broker the next day, purchasing 1,000 shares and 30 call options he sold within two hours of the Feb. 14, 2013 merger announcement, the SEC said.

According to the SEC, Mr. Alpert's employment with the security company ended in July 2015, around the time he admitted his trading to the director, and the defendant is now unemployed.

The SEC also said Mr. Alpert invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination when it questioned him.

Berkshire and 3G bought Heinz for about $23 billion.

They merged that company in 2015 with Kraft Foods Group Inc. to form Kraft Heinz Co., in which they own a roughly 51% stake.