SEC Sues, Settles With Brinker Financial Analyst, Husband Over Insider Trading

Digging through Pacer this morning, looking for something unrelated, I came across this: In Dallas federal court yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Donna Hvidsten the manager of Planning and Analysis at Brinker International, and her husband Bruce, a former Brinker employee, for insider trading. At the same time, the feds filed settlement papers with the couple, who have agreed to pay back the money made from violating the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

According to the feds, at the end of 2009, Donna was prepping financial forecasts, to be distributed throughout the company, that said Brinker's earnings would be around 27 cents a share -- "a number that exceeded analysts' estimates," says the suit, which follows. At which point Donna shares with Bruce the good news. He then purchased several thousand shares of Brinker stock right before the information was officially released, sending the fast-casual chain's stock skyward. Per the suit, "Based on their illegal insider trading, Bruce and Donna Hvidsten profited $20,583.64."

In their respective settlements with the SEC, the couple doesn't cop to the violation, but has agreed to pay back the money with interest. The suit follows.

Update at 11:58 a.m.: Brinker spokesperson Maureen Locus sends this statement concerning the feds' action:

As a policy matter, we do not publicly discuss details of employment status, but I can confirm that Donna Hvidsten is no longer an employee of Brinker International as of Oct. 2010. It's important to note that Brinker wasn't a named party in this suit and no allegations of misconduct were asserted against Brinker in this action. Beyond that, we do not believe it is appropriate to comment further as this matter remains pending between the SEC and Mr. and Mrs. Hvidsten.

Brinker International also has industry-leading policies governing both code of conduct and insider trading which apply to all of our team members.

Brinker Insider Trading Suit

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky