The Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday announced an unusual settlement in an insider trading case involving a French citizen living in Cairo and his Egyptian colleague who allegedly profited from knowledge of a 1985 oil strike before it was publicly announced.

Without admitting or denying the charges, Joseph Kerherve and Adel Adib Riffat agreed to give up a total of about $25,000 in allegedly illegal stock trading profits and to pay a total penalty of about $25,000.

The SEC charged that while working for Schlumberger Logelco Inc. in Egypt in 1985, the two men learned of a Texas International Co. oil strike; before the news was announced, the men profited by trading 10,000 shares apiece of Texas International Co. common stock on the New York Stock Exchange.

At the time of the oil strike, Schlumberger Logelco was doing exploratory work for Texas International. Under the insider trading laws, employees generally are prohibited from trading stocks on the basis of material, nonpublic information they learn through their jobs.

While the total amount of the SEC settlement appears small in the aftermath of Ivan F. Boesky's $100 million insider trading settlement late in 1986, the case is noteworthy for several reasons, according to SEC enforcement division branch chief Jay Dubow.

Dubow said the case illustrates the SEC's interest and success in insider cases involving foreigners who trade stocks in the United States, even when the amount of money involved is relatively small. He said it also shows that the SEC is able to obtain financial penalties from foreign investors.

"There is some perception that people who are not Ivan Boesky ... are less likely to get caught," Dubow said. "We are willing to pursue people who don't make large {numbers of} dollars in insider trading. In some cases people don't make a lot of money by design to try to avoid being detected. That is why we feel it is important to pursue cases where the dollars are not large."

SEC enforcement division attorney Eric Seltzer said the rapid success in resolving the case came about through the cooperation of officials in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the Egyptian Ministry of Justice.

After a complaint was filed in federal court in New York in January, officials of both governments quickly processed the papers and served them on the men in their offices.

At the time, the SEC successfully had frozen assets the two men had in U.S. brokerage accounts. However, had the papers not been served rapidly, it is possible the freeze would have been lifted and the money pulled out of the country, Seltzer said.

Egyptian officials served the papers under the terms of an international agreement on such matters. Formal service of the papers was necessary to bring the men within the SEC's reach; after the papers were served, settlement discussions began and led to the agreement disclosed yesterday.

Given the lengthy delays that often accompany attempts to recover assets from foreigners, Dubow said some SEC officials were surprised that the matter had been resolved less than two months after the complaint was filed.