SEC Sues Ex-InterMune Finance Chief Alleging Esbriet Tips

Ex-InterMune Inc. (ITMN) Controller Bruce Tomlinson was sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly disclosing tips in 2010 about the drug Esbriet to a former business associate.

Tomlinson, who was vice president of finance and InterMune’s principal accounting officer, tipped Michael Sarkesian, a Swiss businessman, about nonpublic information on the progress of a European Union regulatory committee’s review of InterMune’s application to market Esbriet in Europe, the SEC said in a complaint filed today in federal court in San Francisco. Esbriet is used to treat a fatal lung disease.

Sarkesian contacted Quorne Ltd., a British Virgin Islands-based broker whose only shareholder is a Cyprus trust maintained for the benefit of Sarkesian’s wife, to buy InterMune call options that resulted in a profit of $616,000, the SEC said.

The value of the options soared in December 2010 on news that the EU committee had approved the application.

The commission is seeking a court order permanently blocking Tomlinson from violating securities laws or acting as an officer or director of a publicly traded company and unspecific civil penalties. Sarkesian wasn’t sued in the case.

Colleen Mahoney, an attorney for Tomlinson, didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment on the complaint.

The case is SEC v. Tomlinson, 13-02549, U.S. District Court (San Francisco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net

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

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