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Four Italians Settle Insider Trading Charges In U.S. Shoe Bid

August 12, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Three executives of Luxottica Group S.p.A. and a fourth person agreed to pay about $520,000 to settle insider trading charges relating to the company’s buyout of U.S. Shoe Corp., federal regulators said Monday.

The case brings to five the number of people who have settled charges by securities regulators stemming from trading ahead of the bid the Italian eyewear maker for Cincinnati-based U.S. Shoe, parent of LensCrafters optical products business.

In the latest case, the Securities and Exchange Commission said the four defendants made $262,000 in illegal profits in buying U.S. Shoe stock and options within two weeks of the March 3, 1995, public announcement of the Luxottica $1.4 billion takeover offer.

They are: Andrea Fiabane, 34, manager of Luxottica’s European operations; his brother, Giuseppe Fiabane, 40; Paolo Mollo, 33, a production systems manager at Luxottica’s headquarters in Agordo, Italy; and Giorgio Piccinini, 60, administrative manager of a Luxottica unit based in Milan.

The four agreed to settle the charges filed by the SEC in U.S. District Court in Manhattan without admitting or denying wrongdoing. They will pay a total of $520,000, which includes payment of illegal trading profits, civil fines and interest.

The SEC said they purchased 30,000 shares of U.S. Shoe based on confidential information about Luxottica’s pending tender offer; Giuseppe Fiabane also bought call options of U.S. Shoe which would increase in value based on a rise in the common stock price.

According to the SEC, Mollo learned from Luxottica’s investment bankers about the proposed tender offer for U.S. Shoe in January 1995. Andrea Fiabane, whose office was adjacent to Mollo’s, learned of the U.S. Shoe proposal then.

Andrea Fiabane then tipped his brother and another unidentified Luxottica employee to purchase U.S. Shoe stock. Piccinini learned of the takeover by overhearing his supervisor, Malavasi, discuss the pending deal, the SEC said.

Thomas Newkirk, the SEC’s associate director of enforcement, said the Luxottica affair represents one of the more extensive insider trading cases involving a foreign company. The investigation is continuing, he added.

Assisting the SEC were Italy’s securities regulator, the Commissione Nazionale per la Societa e la Borsa, as well as the New York and Philadelphia stock exchanges.

An attorney for Giuseppe Fiabane declined comment, and attorneys for Andrea Fiabane didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment. Piccinini wasn’t represented by an attorney, the SEC said.

Mollo’s attorney, Livio Viel, said his client agreed to settle to avoid a trial in the United States, ``negative publicity for the company and anxiety for the family″ back in Italy.

``We maintain that we could have proven during trial that the information wasn’t so deep or essential″ as to constitute insider trading, Viel said.

In September, Giovanni Malavasi, secretary to the board of the Milan-based Luxottica, agreed to pay $100,000 to settle insider trading charges concerning his stock purchases prior to the U.S. Shoe takeover.

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