January 22, 2020 / 2:34 PM / a month ago

Belgian regulator opens insider trading probe into Belgian biotech CEO

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium’s financial services and markets authority (FSMA) said on Wednesday it had opened an investigation into suspected insider trading against the chief executive of Mithra Pharmaceuticals (MITRA.BR).

Francois Fornieri is suspected of buying Mithra shares via a third party in order to avoid mandatory notifications to the regulator, FSMA said, adding it had been looking into the case since September.

Liege-based Mithra was not immediately available to comment, while the Liege prosecutor declined to comment on the case.

Fornieri was quoted in Belgian business daily L’Echo as saying the allegation was nonsense, asking why he would do such an elaborate move to buy 40,000 shares when he already owned almost 13 million.

Mithra develops women’s health products, focused on contraception and the menopause, and had a market capitalisation of 1.01 billion euros ($1.12 billion) at Tuesday’s close, according to Refinitiv data.

The company’s shares were down 3.5% at 24.92 euros at 1330 GMT on Wednesday.

Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Mark Potter

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