SEC Administrative Decision Holds That, For Insider Trading Purposes, Fund-Level Information, as Opposed to Investment-Level Information, May Constitute Material Nonpublic Information

In the vast majority of insider trading cases involving fund management, the material nonpublic information at issue relates to a company whose securities the fund may buy or sell.  However, in a provocative recent initial decision (Decision), an SEC Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held that information about a fund itself may constitute material nonpublic information for insider trading and breach of fiduciary duty purposes.  This article explains in detail: the factual background of the Decision; the ALJ’s legal analysis; what specific categories of fund-level information may constitute material nonpublic information in the hedge fund management context; the disclosure implications of the potentially expanded scope of material nonpublic information; the interplay between the potentially expanded scope of material nonpublic information and the idea (most notably enunciated in Goldstein v. SEC) that a hedge fund is a manager’s “client”; the implications of the Decision for drafting, negotiating and performing under side letters and managed account agreements; the importance for hedge fund managers of internal investigations; how chief compliance officers (CCOs) can point to the “human toll” in this matter to capture the attention of investment personnel during compliance training; and a new category of monitoring of family relationships to be performed by hedge fund manager CCOs.

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