Maryland man charged in Charlotte insider trading probe

A Maryland man on Thursday became the latest to be charged with insider trading as part of a 2-year-old probe conducted by federal authorities in Charlotte.

A criminal bill of information filed in Charlotte accuses 33-year-old Walter Donald Wagner of trading on information he received from former Wells Fargo investment banker John Femenia.

Wagner has agreed to plead guilty to one count of insider trading conspiracy, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins.

The FBI probe began in early 2012 and has focused on insider trading in the Charlotte area. Nine people, including Femenia, have pleaded guilty for their involvement.

According to court documents, Femenia, who lived in Charlotte and later New York, stole confidential information from Wells Fargo and its clients about upcoming mergers and acquisitions from 2010 to 2012 and shared the information with co-conspirators.

In July 2012, Femenia stole information that The Shaw Group would be acquired by Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. and told Wagner and co-conspirators about the upcoming deal, the bill of information states.

Wagner, who then bought call options and shares in Shaw, made $650,000 from selling them after the public announcement of the Chicago Bridge deal boosted the value of Shaw’s stock, court documents say.

An attorney for Wagner declined to comment. Wagner faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to court documents.

Also Thursday, in a related civil action, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced insider trading charges against Wagner for tipping off a friend about the Shaw Group deal. Wagner has agreed to pay a fine of $528,175 to settle the case, the SEC said.

Femenia is awaiting sentencing. Three others are also awaiting sentencing, and five have already been sentenced.