An Apache Corp. employee has agreed to settle insider trading charges after buying company stock just prior to its announcement of a gigantic oil and gas discovery in West Texas, the Securities and Exchange Commission said on Wednesday.
Petroleum engineer Christopher J. Lollar, 30, of Houston, worked in Apache’s San Antonio offices until this year. There, he learned of the company’s plans to announce the 15-billion-barrel Alpine
High oil and gas field, in the desert around the small town of Balmorhea, according to the SEC complaint.
Then, in the weeks prior to Apache’s September 7 announcement, Lollar bought Apache shares, boosting the value of his accounts by more than $214,000 or 2,700 percent, the SEC said.
At one point, a concerned Lollar called his brokerage firm, hoping to get money into his account before September 7, so he could buy Apache stock more quickly, the SEC said.
Lollar agreed to settle the allegations for about $435,000 — repaying the $214,000 he made on the trades plus about $7,200 in interest and a $214,000 penalty — without admitting the allegations. The settlement is subject to court approval.
The SEC’s investigation was conducted in the Fort Worth office by Tamara F. McCreary and Ty S. Martinez with assistance from Christopher Davis. The case was supervised by Jessica B. Magee, associate director for enforcement in Fort Worth.
Apache said it has “zero tolerance” for insider trading, cooperated with the SEC investigation, and fired Lollar after the investigation ended.
Lollar could not immediately be reached for comment.
This first appeared on the Houston Chronicle – an Energy Voice content partner. For more click here.