Wolff, Stroll cleared of insider trading over Aston shares

Mercedes Formula 1 team principal Toto Wolff and Aston Martin Racing owner Lawrence Stroll were looked into regarding suspicions of insider trading but have been cleared without the need for an investigation.

Wolff (pictured at left, above, with Stroll) purchased a 0.95% stake in Aston Martin Lagonda — the car brand — from a Stroll-owned company in April 2020, joining Mercedes’ parent company Daimler as a shareholder. A month later, the former head of AMG, Tobias Moers, was appointed as Aston’s chief executive, and then Daimler increased its own stake in Aston Martin from less than 5% to 20% in late October.

The investment made by Wolff was a personal one and came with the Mercedes team principal stating he had no prior knowledge of the developments that were to follow, with Mercedes saying “all relevant disclosures were made to the UK financial authorities at the appropriate time.”

Following an initial report about insider trading suspicions from Canadian newspaper Le Journal de Montreal, the Financial Times now reports that regulators did look into Wolff’s share purchase among other things but dismissed the need for an investigation.

The FT report states the German markets watchdog BaFin looked into trading at Daimler “and also passed information to counterparts at the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regarding trading in Aston Martin shares,” but BaFin told the publication it had not found evidence to proceed with an investigation.

While the FCA declined to comment on the reports, the FT adds “a person familiar with the matter said the FCA had not pursued an investigation.”

Aston Martin’s shares have increased by more than 66% since Wolff made his investment in April last year. The share price is linked to the car manufacturer which is a separate entity to the F1 team that is also owned by Stroll, with the latter having a Mercedes partnership to receive powertrains and specific components.