SEC pursues Georgia men for insider trading

The Atlanta office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigated eight Georgia men for insider trading of a Tennessee company that the SEC says profited the men more than $500,000 total.

Four of the men agreed to pay back more than $175,000 in gains, fines and interest, and the SEC is proceeding with lawsuits against the others.

Information from the SEC says a board member of Chattem, a pharmaceutical company that makes health products such as Icy Hot and Allegra, spoke in confidence with Griffin accountant Thomas D. Melvin for advice about the effects of a buyout offer from Sanofi-Aventis.

Melvin tipped four friends and associates about the coming buyout and a resulting likely increase in Chattem’s stock price, the SEC alleges. Those men tipped off other investors.

A late call Tuesday to Melvin’s attorney was not returned.

C. Roan Berry of Jackson, R. Jeffrey Rooks of Griffin, Ashley J. Coots of Jackson and Casey D. Jackson of Atlanta agreed to pay back gains, plus penalties and interest, without admitting or denying the allegations. The settlements are subject to court approval.

The SEC will proceed against Melvin, Michael S. Cain of Griffin, Joel C. Jinks of Griffin and Peter C. Doffing of Milner.

Raymond Moss, Cain’s attorney, said, “We believe the SEC’s allegations are without merit and we will continue to aggressively defend against the charges in this case.”

The other men’s attorneys could not be reached late Tuesday.