SEC, FBI shake the ketchup bottle deal for inside traders

A Heinz Ketchup bottle from Getty Images.

The SEC and FBI are shaking the ketchup bottle and investigating alleged insider trading ahead of Berkshire Hathaway’s acquisition of Heinz.

Berkshire and 3G Capital said on Feb. 14 they would buy Heinz for $72.50 a share, representing a 20 percent premium from the closing price on the 13th.

In its complaint, the SEC says either foreign traders, or U.S. ones trading through foreign accounts, realized a $1.7 million gain in Heinz options ahead of the announcement. The SEC says one of the accounts used had no record of ever trading Heinz options. An account in Zurich has been frozen.

Rob Varnon