The SEC today announced that it is charging the mayor of Beaufort, South Carolina with insider trading on non-public information he obtained while doing consulting work for a California biotechnology firm. According to the SEC, the individual was given information about new technology. The information was provided in confidence and had not been made publicly available. Shortly after receiving the information, the individual purchased shares in the company that would have netted more than $20,000 had he sold out. The individual agreed to pay $20,708 in disgorgement, $2,576 in prejudgment interest, and a $20,708 penalty.
“This case underscores how important it is for consultants provided with non-public information to be mindful of the duties of confidentiality owed to companies that hire them,” stated Marc J. Fagel, Regional Director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office, in the SEC press release.
RIA Compliance Consultants, Inc. would like to use this as an example for registered investment advisor firms which often have clients that are or work for publicly traded companies. Due to these types of client relationships, registered investment advisors can often find themselves in receipt of material, non-public information (i.e. inside information). Acting on inside information is a serious violation of federal securities laws. In fact, Section 204A of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 requires all federally and state registered investment advisors to establish, maintain, and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent the misuse of material, nonpublic information by the registered investment advisor or any person associated with the registered investment advisor. In other words, federal regulators require registered investment advisors to implement policies and procedures designed to prevent their associated persons from engaging in activities that the mayor of Beaufort, South Carolina was charged for. Further, registered investment advisors should have procedures designed to prevent the registered investment advisor from enabling a client to act on inside information.
RIA Compliance Consultants, Inc. can help your firm understand its responsibility to prevent insider trading. We also provide services designed to ensure compliance with the SEC’s Code of Ethics and personal securities transactions policies and procedures. Give us a call to learn more.