Men cleared in record insider trading case

Men cleared in record insider trading case
Two men at the centre of Sweden’s biggest ever insider trading case have been sentenced to two years in jail for tax crimes, but have been cleared on the main charges of insider trading.

The men, Andreas Hofmann and Ossian Hellers, known in the Swedish media as the Nordea Man and the Cevian Man respectively, were said to be thrilled by Stockholm District Court’s verdict:

“He was absolutely delighted, he just screamed out loud,” said Hofmann’s lawyer Hans Strandberg.

The court lifted a freeze on the men’s assets and ordered that the state reimburse their legal costs of about 10 million kronor ($1.3 million).

The court ruled that the prosecution had proven that the men “had given rise to a risk that tax of approximately 5 million and 8.5 million kronor would be withheld,” but said that the prosecution had not provided sufficient evidence to secure convictions on insider trading charges.

Four other men standing trial on lesser charges were found not guilty on all counts.

The insider case concerned share transactions in about twenty listed companies. Prosecutors claimed that the deals had been carried out on the basis of insider information and had brought profits of over 100 million kronor. The case against the men relied heavily on intercepted phone calls, which according to prosecutors showed that the accused had exchanged information on future events that would affect share prices.

When the men were arrested in the spring of 2007, police discovered almost half a million kronor in cash underneath the stuffing in a child’s car seat at Andreas Hofmann’s home.

The men have already been ordered by the Stockholm Administrative Court to pay six million kronor in penalty taxes as punishment for long delays in paying tax on share deals carried out in 2005. The men have appealed the decision to the Stockholm Administrative Court of Appeals.

“Criminal cases generally have a very high burden of proof. The prosecution has not managed to match those requirements,” Judge Christer Thornefors told news agency TT.

“The prosecution built their case primarily on circumstantial evidence. They have presented serious evidence on many points, but it was not enough,” he said.

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