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SEC charges ex-Coca-Cola Enterprises VP

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Securities regulators charged a former Coca-Cola Enterprises executive on Thursday with insider-trading, saying his illegal trades helped him reap $86,850 in illicit profits.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's case, filed in a federal district court in California, alleges that former Coca-Cola Enterprises Vice President Steven Harrold, 53, bought company stock in his wife's brokerage account after learning his company planned to acquire The Coca-Cola Co's bottling operations in Norway and Sweden.

An attorney for Harrold could not be immediately reached for comment.

The main business of Coca-Cola Co, the world's biggest soft drinks maker, is to sell beverage concentrate, or syrup. Coca-Cola Enterprises bottles and distributes drinks.

In 2010, Coca-Cola Co acquired the North American operations of Coca-Cola Enterprises, which had been the largest bottler of its drinks. Coca-Cola Enterprises then bought some European bottling operations from Coca-Cola.

According to the SEC's complaint, Harrold had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Coca-Cola Enterprises concerning the planned acquisition in January 2010. He was also subject to a trading blackout period.

The day before the deal was announced, the SEC alleges that Harrold bought 15,000 shares of Coca-Cola Enterprises stock. He then later sold the stock on February 25, 2010, after the acquisition was made public.

"Harrold deliberately flouted the federal securities laws and specific company restrictions in his purchases and trades of Coca-Cola Enterprises stock," said Rosalind Tyson, the director of the SEC's Los Angeles Regional Office. "His employer entrusted him with critical non public information, and Harrold shattered that trust to bottle up extra cash."

(Reporting By Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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