Germany investigates SAP insider trading charges
MUNICH -- Germany's Federal Securities Supervisory Office is looking into
allegations of insider trading of SAP AG's securities, a spokesman for the regulator
The investigation was launched by the securities industry regulator in January,
according to Jurgen Oberfrank, a spokesman for the Federal Securities Supervisory
Office. Those preliminary results were then turned over to the Heidelberg Public
Prosecutors Office in March, he said.
The Prosecutors Office was informed quickly so that important records such as
telephone lists could be secured, he said. SAP spokesman Moritz Gundolf today confirmed
that the investigations are taking place, and said the Walldorf, Germany-based company
had provided the Prosecutors Office with the information it needed.
Investigations by both entities are continuing, Oberfrank said, but it will be up to
the Public Prosecutors Office to bring charges if wrongdoing is found.
The investigation was spurred by a routine check of "irregularities" in the trading
of both SAP's stock and stock options, just prior to the software vendor's Jan. 5
announcement that its profits for the 1998 fiscal year would be lower than expected,
Oberfrank said (see story).
Shortly before the announcement, SAP's stock took a dive, and there was
higher-than-usual trading of SAP's stock options, the spokesman said.
This isn't the first time that such allegations of insider trading in SAP shares
have surfaced. In 1997, the Public Prosecutors Office in Frankfurt began what became
one of Germany's largest insider trading probes, with as many as 34 people both inside
and outside of the company coming under suspicion.
Eventually, the charges were dropped against nearly all of the people. However,
three SAP managers were determined to have "minor guilt" and paid a fine, while several
more are still under investigation.
SAP's shares have fallen by approximately 10% over the past few days in trading on
German exchanges, partly as a result of rumors of the investigation, according to