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2 accused of insider trading in Buffalo Wild Wings deal

No allegations were made against the chain and its ultimate buyer.
Photograph courtesy of Buffalo Wild Wings

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken legal action against a restaurateur and an official of a large financial institution for allegedly trading on insider information relating to the acquisition of Buffalo Wild Wings.

Neither Buffalo (BWW) nor Inspire Brands, the company that eventually bought the restaurant chain, were accused of any wrongdoing.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, the SEC accused George Nikas, owner of the GRK Fresh Greek fast-casual chain in New York City, and Bryan Cohen, a 33-year-old banker working for a firm identified in court documents as Investment Bank A, of benefiting last year from what Cohen learned at work about the acquisition of BWW. Media reports have revealed that Investment Bank A is Goldman Sachs.

The complaint asserts that a third individual, a broker identified as Trader A, served as the go-between, buying information from Cohen and then passing it along to Nikas. The trio also swapped information about the pending acquisition of a tech firm unrelated to BWW.

The information provided to Nikas enabled the restaurateur to make $2.6 million, according to the SEC’s lawsuit. It did not quantify how much Cohen was believed to have pocketed for the nonpublic information he learned firsthand, from acquaintances at Goldman, and from files he read.

Trader A received millions of dollars as his take from Nikas’ profits.

The action seeks to enjoin the three from participating in future financial dealings and recover their allegedly illegal profits, along with unstated civil monetary penalties.

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