A former Washington lobbyist, Thomas A. Peacock, was ordered last week by the Securities and Exchange Commission to give up $247,000 in profits he made from stock options on Santa Fe International Corp. by allegedly trading on non-public information.
He and a colleague who the SEC said passed on the information, John M. Nugent Jr., also agreed to a court judgment enjoining them from committing further securities frauds.
Peacock and Nugent consented to the civil action without either admitting or denying the charges.
Santa Fe is one of the largest and longest insider-trading cases ever prosecuted by the government. It dates back to 1981, when Santa Fe, a California oil products firm, was about to be acquired by Kuwait Petroleum Corp. The prosecution of the case became an international tug of war as SEC officials tried to smoke out investors who traded through Swiss banks and allegedly made illegal profits of more than $5 million.
The SEC alleged that Nugent, who worked for Timmons and Co., a Washington public relations firm representing Santa Fe, passed information about the forthcoming merger to Peacock, who headed government relations for Signal Co. Peacock bought $2,500 in call options on Santa Fe stock, giving him the right to buy the stock at $30 per share. Santa Fe stock jumped to $44.75 on the first day of trading after the takeover was announced, and five days later Peacock sold the options for $250,000.
Peacock allegedly passed on the information to a broker at the Washington firm of Bellamah, Neuhauser and Barrett. According to charges made during the criminal trial, that information is supposed to have enabled 11 persons to earn more than $900,000 in profits in one week on an investment of less than $9,000.
The broker, Stephen R. Tatusko, who had also bought options and made a $32,000 profit, pleaded guilty in September 1983 to obstruction of justice in connection with the SEC's investigation of insider trading. He was given three years' probation and fined $5,000.
Nugent pleaded guilty in May 1982 to aiding and abetting in the illegal trading of inside information. A U.S. District Court judge fined Nugent $10,000 and sentenced him to perform 300 hours of community service.
Peacock pleaded guilty in October 1983 to obstructing the SEC investigation. He was sentenced to pay $5,000 and perform 200 hours of community service.