Scope of Supervisory Liability of Senior Legal and Compliance Professionals at Hedge Fund Managers Remains Uncertain after SEC Dismissal of Urban Action

On January 26, 2012, the SEC issued an order (Order) dismissing an enforcement action it instituted in 2009 against Theodore W. Urban, the general counsel of brokerage and investment advisory firm Ferris, Baker Watts, Inc. (FBW).  See “SEC Administrative Law Judge Holds that a Broker-Dealer’s General Counsel Could Be Held Liable as a Supervisor of a Financial Adviser Over Whom He Had No Actual Supervisory Authority,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 3, No. 42 (Oct. 29, 2010).  Many practitioners may celebrate the issuance of the Order because it nullifies the precedential value of a prior SEC administrative law judge decision, which appeared to expand the scope of supervisory duties and liability of senior in-house legal and compliance professionals.  However, the impact of the Order on the supervisory liability for in-house legal and compliance professionals at hedge fund managers still remains uncertain.  This article discusses the ALJ decision and the Order dismissing the proceedings against Urban as well as the implications of the Order for hedge fund managers.

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