Perils Across the Pond: Understanding the Differences Between U.S. and U.K. Insider Trading Regulation

The ongoing crackdown on insider trading has been front page news for some time now.  Pundits have compared the situation to the 1980s when a wave of similar charges were leveled against Wall Street icon Ivan Boesky and other professional investors, bankers and lawyers of that era.  Unlike the 1980s, however, this latest round of insider trading enforcement is not limited to activity in the United States.  This time, foreign regulators have followed suit, bringing their own string of insider trading cases that, on the surface, seem to mirror what has been going on in the United States.  The leader of this pack has been the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority (FSA), which has cast aside its historical reputation as a “light touch” regulator by bringing a series of aggressive and unprecedented “insider dealing” cases against their own high-profile targets.  The FSA has secured 14 criminal convictions related to insider dealing since 2009 and is currently prosecuting another eight individuals on criminal insider dealing charges.  This recent flurry of international insider trading enforcement, coupled with the globalization of the world’s financial markets, subjects investment professionals to a new and unprecedented set of risks.  The crux of the problem is that the rules governing insider trading can differ significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  In a guest article, Michael A. Asaro and Douglas A. Rappaport, both partners at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Patrick M. Mott, an associate at Akin Gump, analyze the differences between U.S. and U.K. insider trading laws, and in the process, identify some of the potential pitfalls faced by U.S. investors who are active in investing in the United Kingdom.

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