The Hedge Fund Law Report Provides Due Diligence Roadmap for Institutional Investors Examining Use by Hedge Fund Managers of Expert Networks

Hedge fund managers have responded to the ongoing expert networks investigation by revisiting their insider trading compliance policies and procedures generally, and their expert networks policies specifically.  See “How Can Hedge Fund Managers Avoid Insider Trading Violations When Using Expert Networks?  (Part One of Two),” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 4, No. 5 (Feb. 10, 2011).  Institutional investors have responded by updating their due diligence questionnaires and approaches.  At a minimum, investors are asking their current or prospective managers: whether they use expert networks and if so which; what compliance policies and procedures they have in place with respect to the use of expert networks; and whether they are under investigation for insider trading in connection with expert networks.  But investor due diligence on this topic can get significantly more granular.  According to one well-regarded industry source with whom we spoke, some institutional investors, or their third-party due diligence service providers, are asking their current or prospective managers for records of trades (in hedge funds and personal accounts) in securities of companies mentioned in the primary civil and criminal expert network complaints, around the dates mentioned in those complaints.  The goals of this exercise are to uncover trading patterns that resemble the patterns described in the complaints, to discover spikes in advance of earnings releases mentioned in the complaints and to find other fund or personal trading that is suspicious in light of the allegations in the complaints.  Regulators have undertaken similar analyses of trading patterns for some time, usually with the goal of identifying evidence of insider trading or market manipulation; and those efforts have improved in speed and effectiveness as the relevant technology has improved.  But institutional investors generally have not undertaken due diligence of this sort because it has been considered too attenuated – too much of a search for a needle in a haystack.  The key difference here is that the expert networks insider trading complaints provide a roadmap to potentially problematic issuers, dates and events.  The practical problem is that those issuers, dates and events are buried in hundreds of pages of legal papers.  We at the Hedge Fund Law Report have solved this problem by: analyzing the primary civil and criminal complaints alleging the use of expert networks to facilitate insider trading in technology company shares (as distinct from the biotechnology-related matters); extracting the salient facts; and organizing them in a manner that can serve as a due diligence roadmap for institutional investors.  This article contains the results of that analysis.  This article is long – close to 20 pages – but shorter than the source documents, and a ready-made framework for hedge fund due diligence.  Specifically, this article contains: a chart listing the names of the key civil and criminal defendants, their employers and job descriptions during the relevant periods and the charges brought against them; a list of the public companies about which Primary Global Research, LLC (PGR) experts allegedly passed material nonpublic information (MNPI) to PGR clients; the language of PGR and relevant public company compliance policies; PGR revenues and revenue sources; compensation numbers of PGR experts and employees; and sources of the data and information underlying the allegations in the criminal complaints.  In addition, this article contains a detailed summary of the allegations in the primary civil and criminal complaints against various categories of defendants, including: employees or former employees of PGR; experts in PGR’s network who also worked at technology companies; and employees or principals of hedge fund management companies that were also clients of PGR.  To enhance the utility of this article, we have listed the allegations chronologically in each category and emphasized the specific types of information alleged to have been improperly communicated.  Also, for each material allegation mentioned in this article, we have included references to the specific paragraphs of the relevant complaint containing the allegation, and we have included links to the relevant complaints.  Finally, it should be emphasized that this article is intended for use not only by institutional investors, but also by hedge fund managers.  That is, just as institutional investors can use this article as a framework for performing due diligence, managers can use this article to prepare for due diligence requests that may be in the offing.  While such preparation likely would not rise to the level of an “internal investigation,” managers may consider an internal review of fund and employee trading based on the issuers, dates and events mentioned in the complaints in this article.  Just as it is preferable for a manager to uncover bad facts before the SEC does so in an examination, it is better for a manager to uncover bad facts before an investor does so in due diligence.

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