SEC Insider Trading Action Highlights Red Flags Hedge Fund Managers Must Heed When Employing Political Intelligence Consultants

The SEC recently filed a civil enforcement action against a U.S. government employee, a consultant and two hedge fund analysts. It alleges that, on three separate occasions, the government employee provided the consultant with nonpublic information about proposed changes to Medicare reimbursement rates. The consultant conveyed that information to his hedge fund clients who, in turn, traded on the information in advance of the public announcements of the rate changes. In the SEC press release announcing the action, Stephanie Avakian, Acting Director of the SEC Division of Enforcement, stated, “There’s no place on Wall Street or in our government for such blatant misuse of highly confidential information.” This article summarizes the SEC’s complaint, highlighting the allegations most relevant to hedge fund managers that use political intelligence firms. For another SEC action involving improper use of nonpublic regulatory information, see “SEC Continues to Focus on Insider Trading and Fund Valuation” (Jun. 30, 2016). For an SEC action against a political intelligence firm, see “Self-Evaluation Policies Are Insufficient for Political Intelligence Firms to Avoid MNPI Violations” (Dec. 17, 2015).

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