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 yesterday affirmed the insider trading conviction of the principal of a potential acquiror who, in breach of a nondisclosure agreement with a potential target company, had provided a tippee with nonpublic information about an impending acquisition of the target. The decision in United States v. Chow held that:
- The nondisclosure agreement (“NDA”) between the transaction parties created a duty to keep information about the potential transaction confidential and not to use it for any purpose other than the transaction;
- The defendant tipper violated that agreement by providing information to the tippee, who purchased significant amounts of the target’s shares before the transaction was announced;
- The evidence supported the jury’s finding that the tipper had intentionally provided material, nonpublic information (“MNPI”) to the tippee; and
- The tipper had received a sufficient personal benefit in exchange for providing MNPI.
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.”
In what appears to be the first appellate decision since the Supreme Court’s December 2016 ruling in Salman v. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed an insider-trading conviction based on a tip of material, nonpublic information. The February 24, 2017 decision in United States v. Bray held that the jury had sufficient evidence to conclude that, in soliciting and receiving a trading tip surreptitiously written on a pub-room napkin, the tippee had known that the tipper had provided the information in breach of his duty of confidentiality and in expectation of a personal benefit.
However, the court also made clear that a tippee cannot be criminally convicted for insider trading if he merely “should have known” of the tipper’s breach of duty. The court further held that a “willful blindness” or “conscious avoidance” standard cannot be based on mere negligence (at least in a criminal case).