Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

FSA issues record fine for insider trading

File photo of unrelated Genel Enerji employee at work
Oil firm Genel Enerji was involved in a joint venture with Heritage Oil

The City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), has issued the largest fine in its history against an individual for insider trading.

It fined Mehmet Sepil, chief executive of Turkish oil firm Genel Energi, £967,005 for dealing in Heritage Oil shares using inside information.

Two of his colleagues were also fined about £100,000 each.

They traded on the results of drilling tests at an oil field which was part of a joint venture with Heritage Oil.

The testing work was carried out at the Miran oil field in Kurdistan over two weeks at the end of April and beginning of May 2009. The daily results of the progress of that work were confidential and "highly sensitive", the FSA said.

The three men flew to London on 4 May, the day after the tests were completed, and bought shares in Heritage Oil.

The men sold them for a profit on 6 May when the results were made public and Heritage revealed a "major oil discovery", causing the shares to rise by 25%.

The three men, Mehmet Sepil, Murat Ozgul and Levent Akca made "certain admissions" to the FSA three months later and offered to give up the profits they had made. In Mr Sepil's case, this amounted to £267,005.

The FSA said it accepted that they had not meant to commit market abuse, but said the it wanted the fines to "send a clear message" that insider trading was unacceptable.

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