SEC charges Indian-origin doctors in insider trading case

US market regulator SEC has charged five doctors, including some of Indian origin, in an insider trading case and the physicians have agreed to pay more than USD 1.9 million to settle the charges.

The doctors were charged of insider trading in the shares of a medical professional liability insurance company, on the basis of confidential information about an anticipated acquisition, SEC said in a statement late last night.

The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) had charged that Apparao Mukkamala, one of the five doctors, learned confidential information from board meetings and other communications about the anticipated acquisition of American Physicians Capital Inc (ACAP) by another insurance company.

"Mukkamala in turn shared the non-public information with fellow physicians and friends Suresh Anne, Jitendra Prasad Katneni and Rao A K Yalamanchili as well as his brother-in-law Mallikarjunarao Anne.

"The five physicians each purchased ACAP stock based on confidential information about the impending sale in the months leading up to a public announcement. Collectively, they made more than USD 623,000 in illegal profits on their ACAP stock following the announcement," the regulator said.

The SEC's investigation team in the case also included an Indian-origin person Paralegal Sruthi Talluri.

The five doctors have agreed to pay over USD 1.9 million to settle the case without admitting or denying the charges.

Mukkamala served as a member of ACAP's board since its formation in July 2000. He became its chairman in May 2007. At a meeting on March 12, 2010, ACAP's board confidentially discussed whether it should consider a potential sale of ACAP and instructed company management to evaluate whether or not to continue as an independent, stand-alone company.

The SEC alleges that as ACAP's board and management continued undertaking definite steps toward a sale, Mukkamala routinely disclosed material non-public information along the way to the other four physicians.

Between April 30 and July 7, 2010, they illegally purchased nearly USD 2.2 million of ACAP stock based on the confidential information that Mukkamala shared, SEC said.

Mukkamala himself made a trade in the trading account of Chinmaya Mission West, a charitable organisation for which he was then serving as president, it added.

On July 8, the acquisition of ACAP by insurer firm The Doctors Company was publicly announced, and ACAP shares rose nearly 28 per cent that day.

Individually, Mukkamala has agreed to pay USD 631,000, Mallikarjunarao Anne has agreed to pay USD 253,000, Suresh Anne about USD 697,000, Katneni nearly USD 22,000 and Yalamanchili USD 298,000.

Mukkamala has also agreed to be barred from acting as an officer or director of a public company. 

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