Participants at Hedge Fund Compliance Summit Detail Best Practices with Respect to Insider Trading, SEC Examinations, Risk Mitigation, Marketing Materials, Valuation and Avoiding Investor Lawsuits: Part One of Two

On November 15 and 16, 2010, Financial Research Associates, LLC and the Hedge Fund Business Operations Association presented a Hedge Fund Compliance Summit at the Princeton Club in New York City.  The substance of the Summit was relevant – even prescient – and the timing was fortuitous.  Insider trading was a prominent topic of discussion at the Summit, and on November 20, 2010, about two weeks after the Summit, insider trading received a stunning boost on the list of concerns of hedge fund managers.  That day, The Wall Street Journal and other sources disclosed the existence of a wide-ranging civil and criminal insider trading probe being jointly conducted by the SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.  Then, on Monday, November 22, 2010, the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the offices of three hedge fund managers.  According to press reports, at least one purpose of those raids was to gather documents in connection with the insider trading investigation reported by the Journal.  Following the raids, a number of well-known hedge fund and mutual fund managers received subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.  According to press reports, those subpoenas are very broad and include requests for documents and information relating to use of expert networks and soft dollar practices.  See “For Hedge Fund Managers, Expert Networks Offer Access to Corporate Insiders While Mitigating (Though Not Eliminating) the Likelihood of Insider Trading Violations,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 2, No. 48 (Dec. 3, 2009).  Insider trading is a topic that the Hedge Fund Law Report has covered in depth, and that we intend to cover in even more depth in the coming months.  Notably, Harry S. Davis (who participated at the Summit), Richard Morvillo and Justin Mendelsohn, all of Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, published an article on insider trading in the HFLR earlier this year that we think should be required reading for hedge fund manager personnel.  See “Hedge Funds in the Crosshairs: The Law of Insider Trading in an Active Enforcement Environment,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 3, No. 7 (Feb. 17, 2010).  Also, Michael D. Trager, Richard L. Jacobson and Christopher Rhee, of Arnold & Porter LLP, published an article in the HFLR that can – and should – be read as a companion piece to the Schulte article.  See “The SEC’s New Focus on Insider Trading by Hedge Funds,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 3, No. 22 (Jun. 3, 2010).  Our coverage of the Summit complements these and other HFLR articles on insider trading by highlighting the more important and nonintuitive insights offered by Summit participants on insider trading.  In particular, we discuss points raised by panelists on consultants and expert networks, sharing of information among personnel at different hedge fund managers, rumors and insider trading considerations in connection with bank debt trading.  Beyond insider trading, this article summarizes key insights from Summit participants regarding SEC examinations and identification and mitigation of key risks.  A follow-up article will discuss points made by Summit participants on compliance considerations in connection with preparing and using marketing and advertising materials, valuation and avoiding investor lawsuits.

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