OMV AG Chief Executive Officer Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer will stand trial today over claims he used inside information to buy shares of the company a week before a major divestment.
Ruttenstorfer, 60, is being tried at the Criminal Court of Vienna for the offense, punishable by as many as three years in prison under Austrian law. Ruttenstorfer, who has been chief executive officer of central Europe’s biggest energy company since 2002 and is due to retire at the end of March, denies the charges.
“I am convinced that I bought the shares correctly and that I obeyed all rules,” he said in a telephone interview in November.
Ruttenstorfer bought 26,500 OMV shares on March 23, 2009, a week before announcing the sale of Vienna-based OMV’s 21.2 percent stake in Mol Nyrt. According to Austrian law, a person who uses insider information to buy shares is guilty of insider trading, whether they profit from the transaction or not.
Ruttenstorfer still holds the shares he bought in March 2009, which he acquired via an incentive program for OMV executives. In total, he held 45,030 at the end of December 2009, according to the company’s most recent annual report.
Austria’s financial regulator fined Ruttenstorfer 20,000 euros for market manipulation related to the case. The fine is connected to an interview published on March 21, 2009, in which the CEO said OMV had no plans to sell its Mol Nyrt stake that year. Vienna’s administrative court rejected Ruttenstorfer’s appeal against the fine last week. He has said he plans a further appeal.