Wells Fargo agreed to pay $5 million to settle U.S. regulatory claims that its brokerage unit failed to prevent an employee from trading on nonpublic information related to the 2010 acquisition of Burger King Holdings Inc.
The unit, which admitted wrongdoing, also delayed producing some information for six months and altered one of the documents, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement today.
The SEC in 2012 obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of Waldyr Da Silva Prado Neto, the Wells Fargo employee, claiming he made illicit trades ahead of 3G Capital Partners Ltd.'s 2010 purchase of Burger King. Prado stole the inside information from another Wells Fargo brokerage customer involved in the deal, the SEC said.
Prado, who fled the U.S. after being deposed by the SEC, was charged this year in federal court with inside trading.
"When investors entrust private information to their stockbrokers or investment advisers, they have the right to expect that it will not be exploited," Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC's enforcement division, said in a statement. "Wells Fargo failed to implement procedures to prevent misuse of such information."
This is the agency's first action against a broker-dealer for failing to protect a customer's nonpublic information, the SEC said in the statement.
Tony Mattera, a spokesman for Wells Fargo, declined to comment.