Navigating the Insider Trading Risks in Distressed Debt Trading

The past two years have seen a dramatic increase in the number and visibility of insider trading cases brought by regulatory and enforcement authorities and private plaintiffs.  If the first few months of 2012 are any indication, this trend will continue.  Indeed, not only are enforcement authorities becoming more active in bringing such actions, they are also becoming more aggressive in their interpretation of the scope of actions which may constitute insider trading.  Thus, insider trading cases have been brought against a “tippee” who found a copy of a presentation about a buyout that a banker mistakenly left behind and against a director who is not even alleged to have traded or otherwise profited from the alleged misconduct.  To date, however, there have been relatively few attempts to pursue insider trading charges or civil claims in the context of bankruptcy claims trading, and those cases that have been brought have been largely limited to situations involving creditors’ committee members.  There are good reasons that such actions should be limited to the context of a creditors’ committee.  However, in light of the increasing activity in this area, it is worth reviewing the complexities involved in the application of insider trading laws to distressed debt trading.  In a guest article, Daniel H.R. Laguardia and K. Mallory Tosch, Partner and Associate, respectively, at Shearman & Sterling LLP, provide a comprehensive analysis of insider trading law as it applies to hedge funds that invest in distressed debt, bankruptcy claims and similar assets.

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