The Second Circuit held yesterday that a government agency’s nonpublic, pre-decisional regulatory information does not constitute “property” for purposes of the federal insider-trading and wire-fraud statutes. The decision in United States v. Blaszczak (2d Cir. Dec. 27, 2022) (“Blaszczak II”) effectively vacated convictions under those statutes for defendants who had traded on nonpublic, market-moving information that had been obtained from a government agency.
The Second Circuit held earlier this week that the criminal statute proscribing securities fraud permits convictions for insider trading without proof that the provider of material, nonpublic information received a personal benefit in exchange for that information, even though proof of a personal benefit would be required under the general securities-law statute prohibiting insider trading. The decision in United States v. Blaszczak could ease prosecutors’ burden in obtaining convictions for insider trading by enabling the government to avoid the potentially complicated “personal benefit” issue, which has generated much litigation in recent years. The ruling would not affect civil cases, to which the criminal statute does not apply.
A lot of ink has been spilled over the crime of insider trading, which – in the view of U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff – “is a straightforward concept that some courts have managed to complicate.” In his recent decision in United States v. Pinto-Thomaz (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 6, 2018), Judge Rakoff attempts to simplify insider-trading law by returning to its roots: embezzlement, and use of stolen property.
The Second Circuit confirmed this week that a “meaningfully close personal relationship” is not required for insider-trading liability where a tipper discloses inside information as a gift with the intent to benefit the tippee. The June 25, 2018 decision on panel rehearing in United States v. Martoma (No. 14-3599) retreats…
The Second Circuit ruled today that a “meaningfully close personal relationship” is not required for insider-trading liability where a tipper discloses inside information as a gift or in exchange for some other type of nonpecuniary personal benefit. The requisite personal benefit exists “whenever the information was disclosed ‘with the expectation that [the recipient] would trade on it’ . . . and the disclosure ‘resemble[s] trading by the insider followed by a gift of the profits to the recipient,’ . . . whether or not there was a ‘meaningfully close personal relationship’ between the tipper and the tippee.”