Implications for Hedge Fund Managers of Recent Insider Trading Enforcement Initiatives (Part Three of Three)

Recent criminal and civil enforcement actions allege that hedge fund manager personnel obtained material nonpublic information from employees and experts of expert network firms.  See “The Hedge Fund Law Report Provides Due Diligence Roadmap for Institutional Investors Examining Use by Hedge Fund Managers of Expert Networks,” above, in this issue of the Hedge Fund Law Report.  While the merits of these actions largely remain to be determined, the impact of these actions on the hedge fund industry has already been considerable.  At least one hedge fund management firm that was raided by the FBI has announced that it will wind down, and other firms that were raided by the FBI have sustained sizable redemptions.  Even for managers that have not been directly involved, the renewed focus of the SEC, DOJ and FBI on insider trading has caused hedge fund managers to revisit their insider trading compliance policies and procedures.  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).  While the legal principles and theories of insider trading have not changed, the application of those principles and theories to new methods of investment research may be redefining the scope of permitted activity.  To assist hedge fund managers in understanding what is permitted and what is prohibited in the current environment, how to conduct investment research without violating insider trading law and how to design compliance policies and procedures that reflect the new enforcement reality, the Regulatory Compliance Association’s 2011 Spring Asset Management Thought Leadership Symposium will feature a session entitled “Insider Trading – Analyzing and Addressing the Latest Enforcement Initiatives.”  That RCA Symposium will take place on April 7, 2011 at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square in New York.  The Hedge Fund Law Report recently conducted detailed interviews with three of the thought leaders scheduled to participate in the Insider Trading Enforcement session at the RCA’s April Symposium: Robert B. Van Grover, Partner at Seward & Kissel LLP; John Robbins, Managing Director and Global Head of Compliance at Babson Capital Management LLC; and Adam J. Wasserman, Partner at Dechert LLP.  The goal of these interviews is to enable hedge fund managers to continue performing rigorous and productive research while avoiding insider trading violations.  We are publishing these interviews as a three-part series.  The full text of our interview with Robert Van Grover was included in the February 25, 2011 issue of the Hedge Fund Law Report, and our interview with John Robbins was included in last week’s issue.  Our interview with Adam Wasserman, included in full below, covered a wide range of relevant topics, including but not limited to: a taxonomy of the categories of potentially problematic information as revealed in the current criminal and civil complaints alleging insider trading in connection with expert networks; the government’s evolving view of what constitutes improper information; the definition of channel checking and how it is performed; the level of risk associated with various types of channel checks; whether hedge fund managers have been prohibiting their personnel outright from using expert networks; which categories of experts, consultants or entities should be covered by a hedge fund manager’s expert networks compliance policy; whether compliance policies should prohibit the use of an expert employed by a company in which the hedge fund has an investment, or within a certain period of the expert’s employment by the company; whether hedge fund investment personnel should be limited in the number of experts with whom they can consult in a certain period; the use of scripts or certifications; when to obtain certifications; how to prevent improper communications in informal settings; next steps in the ongoing insider trading investigation; potential RICO charges; how to talk to corporate insiders; and what to do when the FBI comes knocking.

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