Ex-Belgo boss ‘leaked financial information’

By Melvyn Howe
Tuesday 24 February 2009 01:00

A Former Belgo boss, Tim Power, leaked price-sensitive information relating to the company’s sale and other dealings, a court heard yesterday.

In the months before and after the restaurant chain’s £9.8m takeover by the property company Lonsdale Holdings, alleged tip-offs from Mr Power enabled Euan Carlisle, a former company director, to buy three million shares in the companies before they rose in value, a court was told.

Southwark Crown Court in London heard Mr Carlisle was able to sell the shares at a “handsome profit”.

Mr Carlisle, 48, from Wimbledon, denies eight counts of insider trading. He is accused of dishonestly buying shares in Belgo and Lonsdale between November 1997 and May 1998.

Mr Power, 43, from East Sheen, in south London, was Belgo’s operations director. He is not before the court.

Sarah Whitehouse, for the prosecution, claimed Mr Power told Mr Carlisle about the takeover. That was “inside information very few people would be privy to”.

She said Mr Carlisle had acted on the information to buy 700,000 shares before the sale was announced and 100,000 before Lonsdale offered shareholders stock at a knock-down price. He took advantage of the offer to increase his holding to more than a million shares. It was worth “tens of thousands of pounds” and when he sold it he made further “tens of thousands” profit.

Mr Carlisle bought two million more shares in the spring, before Belgo said it was investing in three restaurants.

“So on two occasions this defendant has managed to buy a number of shares at exactly the right time,” Ms Whitehouse said. “If Mr Carlisle had struck lucky just once, it might be said that it was a coincidence. But it didn’t happen just once.” She said the Crown’s case relied on “powerful circumstantial evidence” against Mr Carlisle.

The case continues.