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Merry Christmas! Cough Up the Money!

DENVER (CN) - Insurance company CEO Michael Van Gilder and cronies made $161,000 from inside trading in what Van Gilder called a "Xmas present" to his relatives, the SEC claims in Federal Court.

The U.S. Attorney's Office here filed a parallel criminal complaint against Van Gilder, the SEC said Friday in announcing its own lawsuit, in which Van Gilder is the only defendant.

"This case concerns insider trading in the securities of Delta Petroleum Corporation ('Delta') in advance of the December 31, 2007 announcement that Tracinda Corporation ('Tracinda') had agreed to purchase a 35 percent stake in Delta for $684 million (the 'Tracinda Announcement')," the complaint states.

It continues: "During the weeks leading up to the Tracinda Announcement, Van Gilder received material nonpublic information concerning Tracinda's impending investment in Delta from a close friend who worked at Delta (the 'Delta Insider').

"Based on this material nonpublic information, Van Gilder purchased Delta shares and options for his own account, and tipped his relatives, his broker, and a coworker to purchase Delta securities as well. After the Tracinda Announcement, Delta's stock price jumped almost 20 percent and Van Gilder, one of his relatives, his broker, and his co-worker made more than $161,000 in ill-gotten profits.

"In addition, in early November 2007, Van Gilder had purchased Delta securities based on material nonpublic information he received from the Delta Insider concerning the company's then upcoming third quarter 2007 earnings announcement, which took place on November 8, 2007. Van Gilder held these shares until the Tracinda Announcement."

In its statement announcing the lawsuit, the SEC said that after Van Gilder bought Delta stock and options contracts, "He tipped several others, encouraging them to do the same, including a pair of relatives via an e-mail with the subject line 'Xmas present.'"

Van Gilder, 45, of Denver, is CEO of Van Gilder Insurance Co., the SEC said. It seeks disgorgement, penalties and an injunction.

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