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Wednesday, 3 October, 2001, 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK
US launches terror trading probe
A man counts dollar bills while using a laptop
Dealing on the disaster: Did someone make money?
The US financial markets watchdog has drawn up a list of 38 companies whose shares saw large selling orders just before they were hit by the 11 September terrorist attacks.

Airlines on the list:
US Airways
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a probe into the trading of shares in major airlines, cruise liners and insurance companies, as well as in companies that had offices in the World Trade Center.

There is suspicion that some investors had knowledge that the attacks were imminent, and that they sold shares in order to profit from the inevitable plunge.

The SEC has asked financial firms, including brokerages and investment banks in both the US and Canada, to search their books for unusual trading patterns from 27 August to 11 September.

Canadian order

The SEC did not publish its list, but the Investment Dealers Association of Canada (IDA) published the 38 company names on its website on Monday and sent the list to its 190 member firms.

Insurers on the list:
American International Group (AIG)
CNA Financial
John Hancock
Royal & Sun Alliance
The IDA urged its members to review the shares, "with a view of determining any unusual trading patterns".

However, the Canadians warned its member firms against limiting their search to the shares on the list.

Financial instruments

The SEC's list was drawn up to include companies whose shares had seen massive put-option orders ahead of the attacks.

Finance firms on the list:
Morgan Stanley
Bank of America
Lehman Brothers
March & McLennan
American Express
Bank of New York
Bank One
Bear Stearns

Put options are financial instruments that allow investors to buy the right to sell shares at current prices.

If the prices do indeed fall, they can buy the shares cheaper, then sell them at the price contracted in by the put options.

Suspicious trades

Several airlines and their parent companies were listed by the SEC, including American and its parent AMR, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, United and its parent UAL, as well as USAirways.

Insurance companies were also heavily represented by American International Group, Axa, Chubb, Cigna, CNA Financial, John Hancock, MetLife and Royal & Sun Alliance.

Other firms on the list were the financial firms Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Bank of America and March & McLennan which all had offices in the World Trade Center.

American Express, Bank of New York, Bank One, Bear Stearns and Citigroup were also on the list, as were the aircraft company Boeing and the arms maker Lockheed Martin.

See also:

18 Sep 01 | Business
Bin Laden 'share gains' probe
28 Sep 01 | Business
Net closes on terror cash
20 Sep 01 | Americas
The trail to Bin Laden
19 Sep 01 | Business
Following the money trail
24 Sep 01 | Business
Will Bush's asset freeze work?
01 Aug 01 | Business
Laundering reports reach record high
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