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FBI takes closer look at Heinz

New York - The FBI is examining possible insider trading in Heinz shares ahead of last week's buyout announcement, after US regulators identified suspicious trades from a Swiss account, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.

“We're aware of the trading anomalies the day before the announcement,” said Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Kelly Langmesser. “And we're consulting with the SEC to see if a crime was committed.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission said on Friday it had identified highly suspicious Heinz trades made one day before Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital announced they were acquiring the condiment giant in a $28-billion deal.

The SEC said that it had obtained an emergency order to freeze a Swiss bank account suspected of use in the trades.

It said unknown traders earned $1.7-million in profits through the “irregular and highly suspicious” trades booked on Wednesday.

The SEC said it believed the traders had knowledge of the takeover ahead of the announcement early on Thursday morning in New York.

Langmesser declined to say if the FBI has opened a criminal investigation into the case. - Sapa-AFP

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