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Banking and Finance

Massachusetts and Expert Network Services

At least one of the hedge funds being investigated for its use of expert networks in based in Massachusetts. In an unusual instance of the state regulators acting before Securities and Exchange Commission, the Massachusetts securities regulators are proposing a new regulation to address the use of expert network services. They are proposing a new section under 950 CMR 12.205(9)(c)(16) to the existing list of dishonest and unethical practices:

16. a. To retain consulting services, for compensation that is provided either directly to the consultant or indirectly through a Matching or Expert Network Service, unless the adviser obtains a written certification, signed by the consultant that:

(i) describes all confidentiality restrictions that the consultant has, or reasonably expects to have, regarding Confidential Information; and

(ii) affirmatively states that the consultant will not provide any Confidential Information to the adviser.

b. Notwithstanding section (a) an investment adviser who comes into possession of material Confidential Information through a consultation is precluded from trading any relevant security until such time as the Confidential Information is made public.

c. Definitions. For purposes of this section:

(i) "Confidential Information" means any non-public information, which one is bound by a confidentiality agreement or fiduciary (or similar) duty not to disclose.

(ii) "Matching or Expert Network Service" means a firm that for compensation matches consultants with investment advisers.

As alleged in In the Matter of Risk Reward Capital Management Corp., RRC Management LLC, RRC BioFund LP, and James Silverman, Docket No. E-2010-057, some investment advisers have paid expert networks and consultants to access confidential information about publicly traded companies.

Massachusetts wants additional measures to ensure that confidential information is not being accessed and traded upon. The proposed regulations do not alter an investment advisers' existing duty not to trade on insider information. The goal is to provide investment advisers with greater clarity as to what is impermissible conduct when paying consultants for information.

In the end, it seems like it is just a record-keeping exercise to me.

You can review comments or submit a comment on the proposed regulation.  There is a proposed effective date of December 1, 2011.


For additional commentary on developments in compliance and ethics, visit Compliance Building, a blog hosted by Doug Cornelius.

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