Former Deputy U.S. Attorney and WilmerHale Partner Boyd M. Johnson III Addresses Risk Management Imperatives for Hedge Fund Managers: Insider Trading, Defense Strategy, Crisis Management, Money Laundering, Cyber Security and Tax Shelters

Risk plays a different role in investments and operations.  In investments, as a general matter, returns are broadly correlated with risk.  In operations, on the other hand, quality tends to be inversely related with risk; there is no greater upside potential from increased operational risk, just a greater likelihood of fundamental error.  At the same time, operational risk is generally more dangerous to hedge fund managers than investment risk.  Investors understand that generating returns inevitably involves mistakes, but operational failures call into question a manager’s basic competence as a steward of capital.  Managing and mitigating operational risk are thus increasingly critical aspects of the hedge fund business.  But doing so is easier said than done.  In the first instance, it is challenging to identify the full range of operational risks facing a manager.  There is a group of usual suspects, but the less obvious and more insidious risks are unique to a manager’s strategy and operations.  Once risks are identified, best practices for addressing risks are hard to come by.  In an effort to assist hedge fund managers on both counts – identifying relevant risks and deciding what to do about them – the Hedge Fund Law Report recently interviewed Boyd M. Johnson III, a partner in the Litigation/Controversy Department and member of the Investigations and Criminal Litigation Practice Group and the Business Trial Group at WilmerHale.  Prior to joining WilmerHale, Johnson served as Deputy U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York with supervisory authority over 230 Assistant U.S. Attorneys.  As Deputy U.S. Attorney, Johnson managed the largest crackdown on Wall Street insider trading in history, including the prosecution of Raj Rajaratnam of the Galleon Group; criminal prosecutions and civil forfeiture proceedings related to the Bernard Madoff fraud; the investigation and prosecution of individuals and entities responsible for structuring and promoting international tax shelters; and numerous cyber security and other investigations.  For our interviews with other leading prosecutors in the Rajaratnam insider trading case, see “Former Rajaratnam Prosecutor Reed Brodsky Discusses the Application of Insider Trading Doctrine to Hedge Fund Research and Trading Practices,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 6, No. 13 (Mar. 28, 2013); and “Rajaratnam Prosecutor and Dechert Partner Jonathan Streeter Discusses How the Government Builds and Prosecutes an Insider Trading Case against a Hedge Fund Manager,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 5, No. 45 (Nov. 29, 2012).  The bulk of our interview with Johnson covered various aspects of insider trading – not surprising, given that insider trading remains primus inter pares among the various risks faced by managers in many strategies.  Specifically, with respect to insider trading, we discussed with Johnson: challenges in defending simultaneous civil and criminal insider trading actions; challenges in coordinating defenses to insider trading charges levied by multiple jurisdictions; considerations in evaluating an insider trading plea deal; strategies for obtaining prosecutorial leniency in insider trading cases; addressing insider trading risks from communications among investment professionals at different managers; maximizing the effectiveness of insider trading training; insider trading crisis management; and strategies for documenting findings from insider trading internal investigations.  Beyond insider trading, we also covered: anti-money laundering and cyber security risks confronting managers; identifying risky tax shelter pitches; and navigating fraud risks in healthcare investing.  This interview was conducted in connection with the Regulatory Compliance Association’s upcoming Regulation, Operations & Compliance 2013 Symposium, to be held at the Pierre Hotel in New York City on April 18, 2013.  That Symposium is scheduled to include a panel covering government investigation and prosecution of hedge fund and private equity fund managers entitled “Post SAC Capital – Investigation, Enforcement & Prosecution of Hedge & PE Managers.”  Subscribers to the Hedge Fund Law Report are eligible for a registration discount.

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