A woman exits the UBS building in New York. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News.)

Husband of UBS M&A Director Sued by SEC for Insider Trading

(Bloomberg) -- His fiancee didn’t know he was eavesdropping. He swiftly made more than $250,000.

They got married. Then the Securities and Exchange Commission showed up. Now the husband of a banker at UBS Group AG has settled allegations that he traded on inside information after listening in on his future wife’s conversations about an upcoming deal.

Peter Cho, 39, obtained non-public information from the banker as she conducted business calls about the takeover of Virgin America Inc. by Alaska Air Group Inc., according to an SEC complaint filed Tuesday. She had been advising Alaska Air for months before the carrier announced in April 2016 that it was buying Virgin.

The complaint paints a picture of a stressed-out mergers and acquisitions banker toiling around the clock, with work interrupting leisure time spent with her fiancee, including a tour of out-of-state wedding venues. By trading, Cho violated his fiancee’s trust, the SEC said.

The name of the UBS banker, who the SEC made clear wasn’t informed of the illicit trading, was not in the complaint. A person familiar with the matter identified her as Cho’s wife, Annie Wang, a UBS director. She didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“UBS takes client confidentiality extremely seriously and fully cooperated with this investigation,” said UBS spokesman Peter Stack in an emailed statement. “After our own review, we agree with the complaint that our employee was not involved in the alleged trading activity.”

A month before the takeover was announced, Cho started buying derivatives in Virgin. He turned about $4,000 into $250,000 in less than a month by buying “aggressive” out-of-the-money call options, according to the SEC. In several instances, he was the only investor who purchased or held the series of options he traded.

Cho was working at the time for an accounting firm the SEC didn’t identify. He settled the allegations without admitting or denying the agency’s findings, agreed to return the $251,386 in illicit gains and pay a penalty, for a total of $532,777. His lawyer didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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