A former Shaw Group vice president and his brother-in-law were accused of insider trading Thursday by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleged frauds totaling nearly $1 million.
Also on Thursday, the brother-in-law, Jesse H. Roberts III, identified as a dentist in Ruston, was indicted in Baton Rouge on federal conspiracy and securities-fraud charges.
The SEC alleged in its suit in Lafayette that Scott David Zeringue, while serving as a vice president of construction operations for The Shaw Group in Baton Rouge, profited from confidential company information that he also shared with Roberts. That advance information related to Shaw’s 2012 acquisition by Chicago Bridge & Iron Co.
Federal law bars officers, directors and other members of publicly traded companies from using secret company information to profit from stock trades.
Zeringue, 48, pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He also admitted he and a family member, identified then only as “J.R.,” used inside information to net $753,022 in stock profits during CB&I’s purchase of Shaw.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” David Rozas, Zeringue’s attorney, said Thursday. “Right now, I can’t comment.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Christopher Dippel Jr. and M. Patricia Jones obtained a federal grand jury indictment Thursday in Baton Rouge against Roberts on felony charges of conspiracy and securities fraud.
The SEC alleged Roberts, 43, paid Zeringue $30,000 after the value of Robert’s Shaw stock increased by $765,000.
Roberts allegedly shared advance information with three other people who bought Shaw stock, which the SEC said increased in value by a combined $153,000.
Shaun Clarke, Roberts’ Houston lawyer, said Thursday he had not yet seen his client’s indictment.
“We’ll respond to it in due course,” Clarke said.
The allegedly illegal profits, combined, totaled $918,000 after the price of Shaw stock soared by more than 55 percent, the SEC claims.
Zeringue has agreed to settle the SEC’s claims by paying disgorgement of his trading profit of $32,006 plus a penalty of $64,012. He will be prohibited from serving as an officer or director of a publicly traded company for 10 years.
That settlement is subject to court approval.
“As charged in our complaint, Zeringue betrayed his duty to his company and its shareholders by tipping his brother-in-law with nonpublic information,” said Stephen L. Cohen, associate director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Armed with this inside knowledge, Roberts loaded up on option contracts that he knew would earn him a huge but illegal profit.”
In Baton Rouge, U.S. Attorney Walt Green said the FBI, U.S. Secret Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation are involved in the continuing probe.