As expected from the Spring 2021 Regulatory Agenda, on December 15, 2021, the SEC proposed amendments to Rule 10b5-1 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) to enhance disclosure requirements and investor protections against insider trading. Although there is a statutory framework, the laws surrounding insider trading are largely based on judicial precedence and are difficult to navigate. I last wrote about insider trading in 2014 (see HERE) but there have been many curves in the road since that time.
Since the adoption of Rule 10b5-1, courts, commentators, and members of Congress have expressed concern that the affirmative defense under Rule 10b5-1(c)(1)(i) has allowed traders to take advantage of the liability protections provided by the rule to opportunistically trade securities on the basis of material nonpublic information. Furthermore, some academic studies of Rule 10b5-1 trading arrangements have shown that corporate insiders trading pursuant to Rule 10b5-1 consistently outperform trading of executives and directors not conducted under a
On February 20, 2018, the SEC issued new interpretative guidance on public company disclosures related to cybersecurity risks and incidents. In addition to addressing public company disclosures, the new guidance reminds companies of the importance of maintaining disclosure controls and procedures to address cyber-risks and incidents and reminds insiders that trading while having non-public information related to cyber-matters could violate federal insider-trading laws.
The prior SEC guidance on the topic was dated, having been issued on October 13, 2011. For a review of this prior guidance, see HERE. The new guidance is not dramatically different from the 2011 guidance.
The topic of cybersecurity has been in the forefront in recent years, with the SEC issuing a series of statements and creating two new cyber-based enforcement initiatives targeting the protection of retail investors, including protection related to distributed ledger technology (DLT) and initial coin or cryptocurrency offerings (ICO’s). Moreover, the SEC has asked the House Committee on Financial
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Illegal insider trading refers generally to buying or selling a security, in breach of a fiduciary duty or other relationship of trust and confidence, while in possession of material, nonpublic information about the security. Insider trading violations may also include “tipping” such information, securities trading by the person “tipped,” and securities trading by those who misappropriate such information. Any and all persons that buy and sell stock may be subject to insider trading liability. This blog sets forth a particular hypothetical fact scenario and analyzes the associated insider trading implications.
Hypothetical Fact Pattern: Company X (the “Company”) sells shares to a group of 35 unaffiliated shareholders pursuant to an effective S-1 registration statement. These same 35 unaffiliated shareholders (the “Sellers”) sell their registered stock to a group of 35 unaffiliated purchasers (the Buyers”) in a private transaction (the “Transaction”). At or near the same time as the Transaction, the control block
As a safe harbor from insider trading liability, Rule 10b5-1 provides that a purchase or sale of securities will not be deemed to be on the basis of material nonpublic information if it is pursuant to a contract, instruction or plan that (i) was entered into before the person became aware of the information; (ii) specifies the amounts, prices, and dates for transactions under the plan (or includes a formula for determining them); and (iii) does not later allow the person to influence how, when or whether transactions will occur.
Good Faith Practices When Establishing Trading Plans
In addition, the plan must be entered into in good faith and not as part of a scheme to evade the insider trading laws. Particular care should be taken to avoid adopting or amending trading plans when in possession of material nonpublic information. On June 4, 2009, The SEC filed an insider trading complaint against Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of Countrywide Financial
Attorneys who accept stock as compensation from public companies need to be aware of a vigilant regarding their insider trading obligations. Before analyzing the dynamics of proper compliance in stock compensation scenarios, it is assumed that the stock received by the attorney was issued pursuant to a registration statement or valid exemption and is being resold also pursuant to a registration statement or valid exemption to registration.
Illegal insider trading refers generally to buying or selling a security, in breach of a fiduciary duty or other relationship of trust and confidence, while in possession of material, nonpublic information about the security. Insider trading violations may also include “tipping” such information, securities trading by the person “tipped,” and securities trading by those who misappropriate such information. Securities attorneys are in a unique position as they are often privy to material, non-public information regarding their public company clients.
The SEC prohibits insider trading in Rules 10b-5, 10b5-1 and 10b5-2 or