London Hedge Fund Faces Swiss Prosecution

Mar 11 2008 | 11:21am ET

London activist hedge fund Laxey Partners finds itself in Alpine legal jeopardy for allegedly misusing derivatives to build a stake in Switzerland's biggest building services company.

Switzerland’s Federal Banking Commission has found that Laxey broke disclosure rules by secretly building a 22% stake using contracts for difference. The regulator has recommended criminal charges be brought against the hedge fund, and said it would file a criminal complaint with the Federal Department of Finance.

“Laxey de facto placed Implenia shares with counterparties (parking), thus making sure to be able to redeem the shares at any time through contracts for differences,” the EBK said in its ruling. “This strategy corresponds to indirect share acquisition according to stock exchange legislation, and is therefore subject to disclosure obligations.”

The Finance Dept. will decide whether or not to prosecute Laxey. The EBK cannot pursue the complaint itself, as Laxey is not regulated in Switzerland.

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