Risk & Compliance

Amgen Hubby Didn’t Listen to His Wife

Failed to heed a warning about a stock purchase based on insider information; now he has to hear it from the SEC.
Dave Cook and Stephen TaubApril 24, 2007

Gary K. Melton should have listened to his wife.

Instead, Melton — who is married to Amgen’s vice president of strategic sourcing and procurement, Farryn Melton — finds himself settling insider-trading charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The commission alleged that in November 2005, Melton and his wife discussed the favorable results of a clinical trial, which had been publicly announced, for an antibody jointly developed by the biotechnology company and Abgenix, a smaller rival. At the time, Melton commented to his wife that he might purchase some Abgenix stock, to which she said nothing, according to the SEC.

One month later, the regulator continued, Farryn Melton — who reported directly to Amgen’s chief financial officer and attended meetings where mergers and acquisitions were discussed — learned that a public announcement of Amgen’s acquisition of Abgenix was imminent. Recalling the earlier conversation, she told her husband not to purchase Abgenix stock, without elaborating on the reasons.

The commission alleged that Gary Melton understood his wife’s unexplained instruction to mean that more favorable news about Abgenix was forthcoming but that it was, at the time, material nonpublic information she had acquired through her employment at Amgen.

Nevertheless, in the week before the December 14, 2005 announcement that Amgen would acquire Abgenix, Gary Melton purchased 2,050 shares of the target company, according to the commission; a day later, he realized a profit of $15,252.

Without admitting or denying the SEC allegations, Gary Melton agreed to settle the charges by paying about $31,000, including disgorgement of his profits, a civil penalty in the same amount, and prejudgment interest; he also agreed not to violate the relevant securities laws.

Farryn Melton was neither named by the commission nor charged with any illegal activity.

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