Menu Foods Exec Sold Half His Shares 3 Weeks Before Recall

The CFO of Menu Foods, Mark Wiens, sold about half of his shares in the company three weeks before the poisoned pet food recall was announced, Canadian insider trading reports show.

In Canada’s Globe and Mail, Wiens called it a “horrible coincidence.”

Here’s another horrible coincidence: Menu Foods also waited three weeks after discovering the kitty and doggy deaths before announcing the recall.

Wow, so that means Wiens sold his stocks at the same time the contamination was discovered, but before anyone else knew about it.

Where was that “how to” on hacking Menu Foods’ phone tree… oh wait here it is. — BEN POPKEN

CFO Sold 14K Shares Before Recall [AP] (Thanks to Lana!)

RELATED: Contaminated Pet Food Linked To 30% Increase In Feline Kidney Failure

(Photo: sandcastlematt)

Comments

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  1. SpyMaster says:

    Wouldn’t it be a “horrible coincidence” if a tar-and-feather brigade found its way to this guy’s house?

  2. rickspeaks says:

    Ah yes — I wonder how many CEOs et al have claimed the ol’ “horrible coincidence” AFTER they have been busted for insider trading?

    Perhaps it was a horrible coincidence for him that he was actually caught?

    If indeed it was a coincidence, don’t you think he would have mentioned something in the last few weeks?

  3. nakmario says:

    does anyone know how much his stock holdings in the company were worth?

  4. bluegus32 says:

    Now wait just a minute, Ben. Now you’re buying into sensationalistic journalism. The headline of this news article, and your accompanying remarks, are entirely misleading. According to the article, he sold 14,000 shares worth a mere $90,000 at the time.

    This is the CEO of Menu Foods. How much money do you think he makes annually? $5 million? $10 million? More? $90,000 to this guy isn’t much. Do you really think that he would jeapordize his employment and his liberty over a measly $90,000? Somehow I doubt it.

    According to the article, this does appear to have just been a terrible coincidence.

    But Bornstein said Wiens faced a restricted window in which he could sell his shares.

    A blackout period related to the company’s fourth quarter results prevented Wiens from trading until Feb. 19, Bornstein said. Wiens sought permission in writing from the CEO to trade then, a standard practice, he said.
    With the amount of fear that’s being generated in the press by the pet food recall, now we’re adding conspiracy theories of insider trading? How disappointing.

  5. timmus says:

    Is it going to take the board of directors strangling puppies on live TV before the government decides to open up an audit or investigation?

  6. Coder4Life says:

    Nothing to do with the post but…

    I am figuring out that someone likes Cats alot that runs this blog, but seriously how many poses does this cat do a week? For all the pictures..

  7. AcidReign says:

    …..I like the cat pictures a lot! It’s a lot more entertaining than one of some evil guy dumping stock would be.

  8. OwenJKatz says:

    @bluegus32:

    Uh, Martha Stewart, worth gazillions at the time, used insider knowledge to avoid a mere $45,673 loss in her InClome holdings.

    Greedy bitches, greedy bastards, what’s the diff?

  9. matsayz says:

    @OwenJKatz

    Martha wasnt trying to avoid a huge cat/dog food recall that would cost millions. she was just trying to scam some money which, seriously like you said, around $45k, thats chump change. what this guy did was above and beyond Martha. willfully knowing that this food was going to reach the masses and trying to capitalize on it? psh. i’d let martha get away with ripping my wifes garden out in full bloom before cashing in on a knowingly deathly recall.

  10. superlayne says:

    Like the Internet wouldn’t find out.
    I think major money-makers should just get audited yearly. They’d probably scapegoat someone.

  11. MercuryPDX says:

    @bluegus32: Gee I don’t know. Looks to me like he got at least half his shares out at just the right time: http://tinyurl.com/2mxkx8

    Perhaps the person “giving him permission” felt it would be less scandalous if he only cashed out halfway.

  12. OwenJKatz says:

    @matsayz:

    Absolutely agree with you! I just can’t fathom Gus’ comment:

    “$90,000 to this guy isn’t much. Do you really think that he would jeapordize his employment and his liberty over a measly $90,000? Somehow I doubt it.”

    What Mark Wiens allowed to unfold under his watch was dispicable beyond belief. Maybe we should sic the PETA folks on this guy, armed with something a little more powerful than a cream pie.

  13. matsayz says:

    yea man im amazed we havent heard PETA chanting from the streets. seems they only make the news when we use too much A1 steaksauce on our Kobe beef mmm. they best speak up!

  14. bluegus32 says:

    Wow. Let the lynching begin, huh? Guess the media and the American public don’t care about things like evidence, or hard numbers, or keeping things in proportion. Let’s just send the mob after this guy.

    Whatever. Just sad.

    I guess humanity really is dead when we automatically assume the worst about people.

  15. fearuncertaintydoubt says:

    bluegus32: It’s unlikely he makes $5 million. Probably a tenth of that. Menu Foods is a Canadian company. Companies outside the US typically compensate their executives at a much lower rate than US companies. And don’t think that execs at all US companies make outrageous salaries. Many of them are in the $500k – 1M range. They aren’t the ones who make headlines, so people think that it’s like that everywhere.

    For a guy who makes 500k, 90k is a significant amount of money.

  16. mac-phisto says:

    it’s possible that this was just a really, really, really bad coincidence (if it was me, i would’ve told my broker to stop the trade). it could also be that he was trying to cash out with knowledge the average consumer did not have.

    it’s ok. i have a fix. STOP EXECUTIVE ENRICHMENT. no more stock gifts. period. i don’t care how great of an executive you are. i think that’s fair. no more stories of insider trading & no more stories of queer coincidences. problem solved.

  17. bambino says:

    There’s a special place in hell for assholes like this.

  18. The Walking Eye says:

    “This is the CEO of Menu Foods. How much money do you think he makes annually? $5 million? $10 million? More? $90,000 to this guy isn’t much. Do you really think that he would jeapordize his employment and his liberty over a measly $90,000? Somehow I doubt it.”

    Followed by:

    “Wow. Let the lynching begin, huh? Guess the media and the American public don’t care about things like evidence, or hard numbers, or keeping things in proportion. Let’s just send the mob after this guy.”

    And we’re supposed to agree with you after that gross contradiction? I see your point, but pot => kettle => black.

    This could be a coincidence, but it sure as hell doesn’t pass the sniff test. This seems to be fairly similar to the Martha Stewart case, and given that this contamination happened under his watch and the timing, it’s hard to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  19. soldes1 says:

    Well, isn’t it the time lag between the time that the company learned there was a problem and the time they alerted the public? Surely the CEO should be held responsible for that. What compensation can Menu foods possibly offer people who have lost beloved pets? The cost of the food hardly seems a fair compensation.
    It wd be interesting to know why Menu foods got the new provider of wheat gluten. Like many people who seek products in China, it is to cut costs. Before we know it, it may turn up in human food.

  20. LAGirl says:

    @bluegus32:

    okay, so let’s forget the ‘evidence’ of this guy dumping stock. what about the fact that Menu Foods knew about the kitty/doggy deaths THREE WEEKS before the recall?

    unless you are Mark Wiens’ mom/wife/mistress or really hate animals, you can’t possibly justify what he did.

  21. unwritten07 says:

    Oh, poor guy. “He feels just awful that this link has been made,”

    If he has a dog or cat, let’s just save the taxpayers $$ and find out if he switched the pet food he was buying during that time.

  22. Treved says:

    I’m shocked, I tell ya, shocked! My countryman has let me down. Though he lives in Ontario, right? Bastards, it figures.

  23. BillyMumphry says:

    while the act in itself is egregious and obviously no coincidence, i find it hard to believe that the cfo only held 28k shares. That is nothing for an exec. Literally. Maybe 100x that would be a more reasonable holding.

  24. Erskine says:

    @blugus:

    I’ve been reading your comments about this situation and, frankly, you appear to be a schill.

    ‘Nuf said.

  25. BRUTUS says:

    Bluegus32 uses the arguement that Mr. Wiens essentially has too much money to risk stealing such a paltry amount. Anybody with any intelligence who also reads the news should see through that absurd logic. Let’s assume that Mr. Wiens does make ten million dollars per year or more as CEO of this company. My question would be “why would a man making so much money need to sell his stock in a company that he runs for such a pittance?” If, in the past, Mr. Wiens had been selling his accumulated company stock as soon as it was legal to do so I might think that there is a chance that it was an innocent coincidence. Otherwise, I say throw away the key and feed him dog food from his company. Also, I wonder if bluegus32 might be Wiens’ lawyer or possibly a so far unindited coconspirator.

  26. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    i’m in yur taxes
    attracting yur audits

  27. hop says:

    is martha’s room still open??????

  28. The Bigger Unit says:

    Too bad people didn’t assume the worst in the Enron fiasco; maybe thousands of people would have a retirement fund.

    There’s no room anymore to assume “the best” in people dude.

  29. orielbean says:

    How about the fact that the executive has a very high standard of conduct to uphold, then we should assume the very worst in all of their motivations and actions.

    They wield so much power and there are fewer checks or balances to apply against them until after the fact – so every thing they consider or act on must be viewed with a microscope.

    Scrutiny needs to be rigorous – not some Ayn-Randian flower garden of supermen and women protecting us from ourselves using the mutant power of the corporation…

  30. @BillyMumphry: “while the act in itself is egregious and obviously no coincidence, i find it hard to believe that the cfo only held 28k shares. That is nothing for an exec. Literally. Maybe 100x that would be a more reasonable holding.”

    Bill, you are way off. 28,000 is a very normal number of shares to hold by an executive, particularly in a mid-sized company. 2,800,000 shares is ridiculous – Jack Welch didn’t own that much of GE. (The largest individual shareholder of GE, in fact, is Immelt, and he has 918,623 shares.) Menu Foods only has 19 million shares out. GE has 10.3 billion.

    If you take some time to read insider trading reports — which are available at Reuters or Yahoo — you’ll see that the 5,000 to 30,000 range is a very normal range for insider trades, and for executive share ownership in mid-sized companies.

    Hopefully if you’ve achieved the level of “executive compensated with stock options” and “required to report insider trading,” you know better than to OWN NOTHING BUT STOCK IN YOUR OWN COMPANY. Mega eggs-in-one-basket issue.

  31. bluemeep says:

    All I know is that our corgi recently switched to eating one of the now recalled foods (“Mighty Dog” cans) and had been having serious health issues since. If it turns out this man actually knew about the tainted food, I want some damn accountability.

  32. BillyMumphry says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:

    Considering I trade hundreds of thousands of shares at a time, for a living, I am well versed in the world of equity markets.

    However, i did not literally mean 2.8MM but 28k is a pittance. I am not aware of the size of Menu Foods (i don’t trade canadian), but I was assuming it was fairly large.

  33. Trai_Dep says:

    It’s funny when corporate apologists troll on Consumerist.

    “That granny only had her labia fused to her thigh by McDonald’s super-heated coffee – which they knew was a hazard and even ran a cost/benefit analysis and said, ‘Burn baby burn! WE want marketshare!'”

    and,

    “Inept CEOs helming their companies into international catastrophies shouldn’t have to account for insider trading since, well, they’re rich. Why do you hate Capitalism so?”

    and,

    “Why can’t people give controversial companies that populate Consumerist the benefit of doubt? Where’s the love?”

    By definition, most companies that appear here are here because they’ve done something immoral, stupid, illegal or all of the above.

    Every so often, Consumerist highlights a champion company that deserves our love. So we reward them disproportionately with our dollars. That is capitalism.

    The irony is that a millisecond after their ox is gored, these clowns are the same “jerks” “clogging” our courts with “frivolous” lawsuits. Assuming they’re not lawyers already (in which case, their BUSINESS is, well, “clogging” our courts).

  34. Bourque77 says:

    @bluegus32: Ill stop assuming the worst about people when I’m given a reason to.

  35. BillyMumphry says:

    @bluemeep:

    unfortunately, you will not get it. but good luck.

  36. poicat says:

    I think these guys should be put in prison or join George Bush’s cabinet…..they’d fit right in with what’s happening right now.