CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A criminal indictment in U.S. District Court charges Eric M. Hill, 44, of Charlotte, with insider trading, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. The indictment was returned by a grand jury last week and was unsealed this morning, following Hill’s initial court appearance.
John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in North Carolina, joins U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.
The indictment alleges that between October 13, 2015, and October 26, 2015, Hill committed insider trading based on nonpublic information pertaining to a proposed acquisition of Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc. (Piedmont) by Duke Energy Corporation (Duke Energy). Stealing material, nonpublic inside information allows a trader to cheat and earn substantial profits by trading before such news becomes public, earning profits by trading again once the news becomes public and impacts the price of a stock.
According to allegations in the indictment, Hill misappropriated the nonpublic information from an employee of a consulting firm that provided services to Piedmont. The indictment alleges that Hill used the confidential information to conduct a series of securities transactions prior to and after the announcement of the acquisition of Piedmont by Duke Energy. The indictment further alleges that Hill took in over $380,000 as a result of his illegal insider trading activities.
Hill is charged with fraud in connection with the purchase and sale of securities, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $5 million fine. He is also charged with seven counts of securities fraud, which carry a maximum prison term of 25 years, and a fine of $250,000, per count.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In announcing the indictment, U.S. Attorney Murray commended the FBI for their investigation of this case. In a related matter, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced a separate civil action against Hill filed with the U.S. District Court in the Western District of North Carolina.
The prosecution for the government is handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel Ryan and Graham Billings, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.