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Banker convicted of insider trading ahead of €2bn Viridian takeover

AN investment banker has been convicted for insider trading after buying shares in Irish energy company Viridian before it was taken over in a €2bn deal.

Last week former Dresdner Kleinwort investment banker Christian Littlewood, his wife, and an associate admitted eight charges of insider dealing in a London court.

Littlewood and his accomplices were alleged to have bought up to €2.5m worth of shares in Viridian and seven other companies ahead of takeover deals. He is to be sentenced later this month.

Viridian, which was listed in Dublin and London, was bought by the Bahrain investment group Arcapita in a €2bn deal in 2006. Shares in the company rose sharply when the takeover was announced.

The British Financial Services Authority declined to say whether Irish agencies had been involved in the investigation when contacted by the Sunday Independent.

Nobody has ever been convicted of insider trading in an Irish court. Dunloe Ewart executive Philip Byrne was cleared of all charges related to share trading after a case in February 2002. The Fyffes/DCC insider dealing case was a civil action taken by the fruit company. In recent years a series of probes has been launched by the stock exchange and regulatory authorities after heavy trading was spotted ahead of major announcements by Irish companies.

None of these probes has led to further investigation. Last year, British authorities estimated that about one-third of all major company announcements were preceded by "suspicious" trading.

Sunday Indo Business