Clinton nominee in insider trading probe

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The Independent Online
PRESIDENT CLINTON'S plans to turn the US Commerce Department into a champion of American technological know-how were derailed yesterday by news that his nominee for Deputy Commerce Secretary, John Rollwagen, is being investigated for alleged insider trading.

Mr Rollwagen was the chief executive of Cray Research two years ago, when its rival Cray Computer unexpectedly lost a dollars 30m contract to design a supercomputer for a US government research facility. Cray Research - which had retained a 10 per cent share in the company when it was spun off in 1989 - sold most of its stake shortly before the cancellation was publicly announced and later won the contract itself.

Reports in the US business press yesterday said Mr Rollwagen, who was to have come before the US Senate for confirmation this week, is being investigated personally by the Securities and Exchange Commission for his part in the sale. The SEC would not confirm the report, but a Commerce spokesman said hearings on the nomination had been postponed until the SEC completed its inquiry.

Cray Research denies it traded on inside information and says Mr Rollwagen, who left the company in January, did not trade any Cray Computer shares personally during the period in question.