By Ross Kelly
SYDNEY--A former senior BG Group PLC. (BG.LN) executive was found guilty by an Australian court Wednesday of insider trading after he bought shares in a company shortly before it was acquired by the British energy company.
Stuart Fysh, the former head of BG's Asia, Middle East and Africa divisions, was accused of the crime by Australia's securities regulator in late 2008. He left BG in December that year after an internal company investigation concluded his position there was untenable.
Mr. Fysh had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which relate to his purchase in 2007 of 250,000 shares each in Queensland Gas Corp. and Arrow Energy Ltd.. He was found guilty Wednesday in the Supreme Court of New South Wales of two counts of insider trading related to his purchase of the Queensland Gas shares.
He was found not guilty regarding his purchase of the Arrow Energy shares. That company was eventually acquired by Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDS) and PetroChina Co. (PTR) in 2010 following a bidding war with BG.
"The verdict serves to emphasise how important it is that employees understand their obligations in relation to confidential information and dealing in shares," a spokesman for BG Group said.
According to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, Mr. Fysh made about 640,000 Australian dollars (US$668,000) from his trades in Queensland Gas shares. Supreme Court Judge Lucy McCallum will sentence Mr. Fysh at a date to be determined.
Insider trading in Australia currently carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Mr. Fysh's attorney's weren't reachable for comment.
Write to Ross Kelly at email@example.com
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