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SEC Sues Filmmaker Lawrence Robbins for Insider Trading

Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed and settled an insider-trading lawsuit against Lawrence Robbins, an independent filmmaker, for trading on tips he received from a friend involving drug-company acquisitions.

Robbins agreed to pay more than $1 million, including a $865,000 disgorgement and a $150,000 penalty, without admitting or denying the claims in the complaint, the SEC said today. He also consented to be permanently barred from future violations.

The SEC alleged that Robbins, of New York, reaped illicit profit by trading on illegal tips about the April 2008 acquisition of Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and the 2009 purchase of Sepracor Inc. by Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma Co. The SEC accused him of getting the tips from his business partner, John Michael Bennett.

“Robbins plotted with his business partner to perpetrate an insider-trading scheme that enabled him to invest a portion of his illegal profits in their film production company,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, Senior Associate Director of Enforcement for the SEC’s New York office.

Robbins, his friend Bennett, an independent film producer, and a third man, Scott Allen, a former Mercer LLC investment adviser who the U.S. said was the source of the inside information, made at least $2.6 million in the scheme, according to the complaint.

Illegal Profit

SEC says that Robbins earned $1.12 million in Millennium and more than $338,000 in illegal profit by trading in Sepracor. The SEC said that the settlement, which is subject to court approval, “takes into account Robbins’s current financial condition.”

Both Bennett and Allen were sued by the SEC and also charged with insider trading by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office. Both men pleaded guilty. The SEC said its case against Allen and Bennett continues.

The Robbins case is SEC v. Robbins 13-cv-06694, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The criminal case is U.S. v. Bennett, 11-cr-00927, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in New York at pathurtado@bloomberg.net

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

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