A senior Morrisons executive has reportedly been arrested – but not charged – in connection with allegations of insider trading connected with the Bradford-based supermarket’s tie-up with online retailer Ocado.
Paul Coyle, Morrisons group treasurer and head of tax – described by police and financial regulators only as a 49-year-old Morrisons employee – was arrested at his Harrogate home in December on suspicion of buying shares in Ocado before it was publicly announced that the online specialist would undertake deliveries for the new morrisons.com operation through a £216 million partnership.
The tie-up, which enabled Morrisons to launch online sales and home deliveries of groceries, strongly boosted the value of Ocado’s shares. Online groceries, along with the roll-out of local convenience stores, is a key prong in Morrisons strategy for recovering its declining market share.
Mr Coyle was reportedly arrested after an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Insider dealing is punishable by a fine or up to seven years in prison. It is not known how many shares in Ocado are alleged to have been bought.
The Morrisons deal involved the supermarket buying an Ocado distribution centre for £170 million, licensing its technology and paying Ocado a regular performance fee and contributions to its research and development costs.
Neither Morrisons nor the FCA would comment.