An investment firm controlled by British billionaire Michael Spencer reached an 11th-hour settlement with an oil executive and his wife in a case that saw insider-trading accusations fly and the threat of a private prosecution.
Spencer’s FCFM Group Ltd. had alleged that Peter Young and his wife had been tipped off by an insider about about a transaction involving a small oil firm, which caused the shares to gain more than 170%. But just before the London trial was due to start Monday, Spencer withdrew the allegation that the couple had confidential data.
“FCFM has withdrawn all allegations of impropriety that it had made against Mr. and Mrs. Young, including, without limitation, that they had inside information or in any other way acted improperly,” a lawyer for the Youngs said in a statement. “The parties are pleased to have resolved their differences in a manner which has been mutually beneficial.”
The investment firm had also considered pursuing a potential private prosecution against the couple, and sought access to private phone records and trading data. The firm said that in October 2017, Peter Young, a former Standard Chartered Plc banker attempted to buy shares in RockRose Energy Plc as late as the evening before the announcement.
FCFM and Spencer declined to immediately comment. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed.
Spencer, once a treasurer of the U.K. Conservative Party, and a long-time supporter of former prime minister David Cameron, took control of FCFM in June 2017, according to records at Companies House. The billionaire built his fortune after co-founding the world’s largest inter-dealer broker, ICAP.
The legal spat started when the Youngs filed their own lawsuit in March, saying they entered into a sales contract to purchase 187,500 pounds ($242,000) of shares in RockRose from FCFM. They said that FCFM head Jason Granite agreed to the sale and then refused to complete the transaction after the company disclosed plans for a reverse takeover of Idemitsu Petroleum U.K. Ltd.
Young said in a filing that he took a “keen interest” in developments in the oil-and-gas sector and followed RockRose’s progress closely including reports by analysts and blogs.