Comcast’s Roberts to Pay $500,000 to Settle U.S. Suit on Stock Purchases

Brian L. Roberts, chairman and president of Comcast (CMCSA) Corp., agreed to pay $500,000 to settle allegations that he failed to report purchases of the company’s stock as required under antitrust law.

The settlement, which needs approval from a judge, was announced today by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department after they filed a civil lawsuit against Roberts in federal court in Washington.

Roberts didn’t comply with notification and waiting requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act when he acquired about 3,700 shares of Comcast voting securities as part of his compensation beginning in October 2007, according to the complaint. The stock purchases were related to a 2002 merger agreement between Comcast and AT&T Corp., according to the FTC.

The purchases resulted in Roberts holding about $120 million in Comcast stock, according to the Justice Department.

“The amount of the fine was limited by a number of factors, including that the violation was inadvertent and technical; that it was apparently due to the faulty advice from outside counsel; that Roberts did not gain financially from the violation; and that he reported the violation promptly once it was discovered,” the FTC said in statement.

In August 2009, Roberts made a corrective filing to the agencies, according to the FTC.

“We take very seriously our obligations to comply with all aspects of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and working with our lawyers we have put in place additional safeguards to ensure that an inadvertent violation does not occur in the future,” Philadelphia-based Comcast said in a statement.

Roberts previously admitted to reporting violations in 1999 and 2000, which he said were “inadvertent,’ according to the FTC and today’s complaint. He wasn’t charged at that time by the FTC, according to a statement by the agency.

The case is U.S. v. Roberts, 11-cv-02240, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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