Pharmaceutical Company Executive Arrested On Insider Trading Charges

NEWARK – An executive with global pharmaceuticals giant Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. was arrested this morning on insider trading charges related to allegedly illegal trades he made based on information concerning three of the company’s acquisition targets, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Robert Ramnarine, 45, of East Brunswick, is charged in a criminal complaint with three counts of securities fraud. Ramnarine was arrested Aug. 2 by agents of the FBI and was scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court.

According to the complaint unsealed today:

Ramnarine was employed by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. since 1997, and from March 2008 through the present, held a variety of high-level, executive positions at the company, including director of Pensions and Savings Investments (March 2008-June 2011), executive director of Pensions and Savings Investments (June 2011-July 2012), and assistant treasurer for Capital Markets (since July 2012).

As a result of these positions, Ramnarine was involved in evaluating potential BMS acquisition targets, including publicly traded companies, and was privy to inside company information concerning such transactions. At all times, he owed a fiduciary duty of trust and confidence to BMS not to disclose confidential information and material, nonpublic information he learned through his employment with BMS, or to use such information for his personal benefit or the benefit of others.

Between August 2010 and June 2012, however, Ramnarine, allegedly traded on material, nonpublic information regarding BMS’s anticipated acquisitions of the following publicly traded companies: ZymoGenentics, Inc., Pharmasset, Inc., and Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The material, nonpublic information available to Ramnarine enabled him to reap substantial profits by engaging in lucrative trading in stock options of these companies shortly before they were either acquired by BMS in the case of ZymoGenetics and Amylin, or by another company in the case of Pharmasset. Ramnarine allegedly generated approximately $311,361 in illicit profits pursuant to this scheme.

While allegedly trading on inside information he obtained through his work at BMS, Ramnarine is accused of attempting to conceal those alleged illegal trading activities. In November 2011, Ramnarine learned (1) that Pharmasset was participating in a limited auction process, whereby it would be sold to the highest bidder, and (2) that the auction would close on Nov. 17, 2011.

Before trading ahead of the sale of Pharmasset, however, Ramnarine allegedly conducted numerous Yahoo! Internet searches from his work computer concerning means to avoid detection for insider trading, including the following terms: “can option be traced to purchaser”; “can stock option be traced to purchase inside trading”; and “insider trading options traceillegal [sic].” Based on these searches, as well as others, between Nov. 2, 2011, and Nov. 3, 2011 Ramnarine visited a number of websites and viewed articles discussing the purpose of insider trading laws, examples of insider trading violations, as well as ways to avoid insider trading violations.

The securities fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of twenty years in prison and a fine of $5,000,000.

Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, in Newark, with the ongoing investigation leading to the criminal Complaint. He also thanked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Market Abuse Unit and Philadelphia Regional Office, under the direction of Daniel M. Hawke for its assistance, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company for its cooperation during the investigation.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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