A Texas man made almost US$2 million by illegally trading on his wife’s conversations with her BP Plc colleagues, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in its latest case about couples eavesdropping while working from home. 

For months, Tyler Loudon bought shares in TravelCenters of America Inc., the SEC said on Thursday. He liquidated his brokerage and retirement accounts and in February 2023, when BP announced it was buying TravelCenters of America at a 74 per cent premium, Loudon made a $1.76 million profit. His wife, then a BP mergers and acquisitions manager who was working on the deal, was unaware of his trading, the regulator said.

According to lawsuits from the SEC and U.S. prosecutors in Texas, Tyler got the idea to buy TravelCenters after learning of the potential deal from his wife, who was working on the deal in a home office 20 feet away. When he ultimately confessed to her, she moved out of the house and later filed for divorce. She reported his trades to BP, who then fired her despite finding no evidence that she knowingly leaked the deal, according to the SEC.

As part of his settlement, Loudon agreed to give up the money he made on the transactions and pay a fine. Loudon’s lawyer, Peter Zeidenberg, declined to comment. Loudon consented to a bar him from serving as an executive at a public company, without denying the SEC’s allegations, according to the regulator. BP declined to comment.

The deal to buy TravelCenters of America Inc. for about $1.3 billion gave the British oil major access to a network of US gas stations. At the time of the transaction, TravelCenters had a network of 281 locations in 44 states.

Since the work-from-home era began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SEC has brought multiple insider-trading cases involving information overheard or seen while working from home with a significant other.

According to the SEC, Loudon’s eavesdropping extended abroad. While traveling in Rome, the SEC said Loudon sat nearby his wife while she worked on the TravelCenters deal from a small rented apartment.