Insider Trading and Debt Securities: Practical Tips for Hedge Funds in Coping with Regulatory Enforcement

Recent events have brought increased regulatory and judicial focus on the world of debt instruments.  The stock market crash of the fall of 2008 was largely precipitated by the implosion of debt instruments linked to sub-prime mortgages loans.  These market crises put into relief the relative size and power of the bond markets.  The equity markets were, at least as of mid-2009, less than half the size of the debt markets, $14 trillion versus $32 trillion in the U.S. and $44 trillion versus $82 trillion globally.  Perhaps understanding this, since 2008, the SEC has begun new, unprecedented investigations of insider trading in the realm of debt instruments.  In a guest article, Mark S. Cohen, Co-Founder and Partner at Cohen & Gresser LLP, and Lawrence J. Lee, an Associate at Cohen & Gresser, discuss: hedge funds and the debt markets; the law of insider trading; potential sources of inside information; relationships that are likely to give rise to duties of confidentiality in connection with a debt trading strategy; types of insider trading cases concerning debt securities and credit, including discussions of specific cases involving derivatives, bankruptcy, distressed debt, government bonds and bank loans; and practical steps that hedge fund managers can take to avoid insider trading violations when trading various types of debt and debt-related instruments.

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