Court freezes trader’s assets in Smithfield case

In this May 29, 2013 photo, a pig statue sits outside the offices of Smithfield Foods in Smithfield, Va. Smithfield Foods has agreed to be bought by Shuanghui International Holdings for about $4.72 billion. Residents in this southeastern Virginia town have mixed reactions to the idea that the maker of their famous cured hams may soon be owned by a Chinese company. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Amanda Lucier)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. court has frozen the assets of Thailand trader accused of profiting from advance knowledge of a Chinese company’s plan to acquire Smithfield Foods.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has accused Badin Rungruangnavarat of insider trading, saying he made more than $3 million ahead of the $4.7 billion planned acquisition announced May 29. He bought thousands of options on Smithfield stock and futures contracts in the prior week that would turn profitable when the acquisition was made public, the SEC said.

Smithfield shares rose 29 percent on May 29, closing at $33.35.

The SEC says Rungruangnavarat has a Facebook friend who works at an investment bank who might have been his information source. Rungruangnavarat could not be reached for comment.

The federal court order bars Rungruangnavarat from destroying evidence.

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