The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened an inquiry into suspicious trades placed ahead of the $23 billion acquisition of H.J. Heinz, a person briefed on the matter said.
The FBI’s involvement adds to the scrutiny surrounding the deal. Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission froze a Swiss account linked to possible insider trading in the Heinz takeover.
Like the SEC, the FBI’s office in New York, one of the main players behind the government’s recent crackdown on insider trading, is examining a series of well-timed options trades made a day before Berkshire Hathaway and the investment firm 3G Capital agreed to buy Heinz.
The deal sent the company’s shares — and the value of the options contracts — soaring.
“The FBI is consulting with the SEC to see if a crime was committed,” an FBI spokesman said in a statement.
The investigation centers on an unusual spike in options trades involving Heinz. The traders bought 2,533 call options on Feb. 13 through a Swiss account at Goldman Sachs, according to the SEC, which called the activity a “drastic” uptick in trading.
At the time of the SEC’s action on Friday, authorities had not yet determined the identity of the traders, and the FBI declined to comment further on Tuesday.
Goldman, which is not accused of wrongdoing, was the conduit for the trades. A bank spokesman said Goldman was “cooperating” with the investigation.