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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ex-Merck analyst faces insider trading charges on merger tips, (NYSE: MRK)

Federal criminal prosecutors in New York charged a former Merck & Co Inc employee with conspiracy to commit fraud for tipping a contact about potential mergers, including Merck's takeover of Idenix Pharmaceuticals ahead of a public announcement in June, according to a court filing on Tuesday.In charging Zachary Zwerko, the filing referred only to "the pharmaceutical company where he was employed at the time." But his profile on the business networking site LinkedIn describes him as a former senior analyst for Merck and his lawyer confirmed that Zwerko worked at Merck during the relevant period. The lawyer failed to comment on the case.The complaint said Zwerko, who was a senior finance analyst in his company's financial evaluation and analysis group, passed information to a trader at an unnamed bank with whom he had attended Rutgers Business School. The trader, who is not charged in the complaint, allegedly traded on Zwerko's tips about Idenix and two other stocks: Ardea Biosciences and ViroPharma Inc.Zwerko had access to a computer directory of information about potential acquisitions and learned Ardea and ViroPharma were both potential targets, according to the complaint. He passed on tips to the trader by phone.

Merck & Co., Inc. (Merck), is a global health care company that delivers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products, which it markets directly and through its joint ventures. Shares of MRK traded higher by 1.37% or $0.77/share to $56.91. In the past year, the shares have traded as low as $44.62 and as high as $61.33. On average, 8571440 shares of MRK exchange hands on a given day and today's volume is recorded at 5092497.