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Cambridge man charged with insider trading

A former Merck & Co. Inc. pharmaceutical analyst from Cambridge was charged Tuesday with insider trading after he allegedly tipped off a business school classmate about two potential mergers that allowed the friend to make $683,000,authorities said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors have filed a civil and criminal complaint against Zachary Zwerko, 32.

Zwerko, worked at Merck until July, according to his LinkedIn profile. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Zwerko accessed confidential files about his employer’s acquisition targets and shared that information with his friend and trader, according to court documents. He allegedly shared information about Merck’s interest in acquiring Cambridge-based, hepatitis C drug developer Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc., before the purchase was announced this past June, court documents said.

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Zwerko also told his friend that several pharmaceutical companies were interested in buying Ardea Biosciences, Inc., court records said. AstraZeneca PLC eventually purchased Ardea in 2012.

In both cases, the trader who is not named in court documents, purchased shares in the smaller companies before they were acquired and then sold them later for significant profits, authorities said.


Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.