According to Bloomberg Businessweek, both Republicans and Democrats appear to be getting behind a House measure that forbids insider trading by lawmakers. The legislation would consider any trading on legislation done by lawmakers or their staffers as securities fraud. Also, trades over $1,000 would have to be reported within three months.
The measure mandates that regulators draft rules preventing intelligence firms and individuals from selling nonpublic data that they receive from federal employees. Individuals and firms taking part in political intelligence would have to register just the way federal lobbyists do.
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)’s bipartisan legislation would revise the definition of insider trading to include information obtained from congressional work. Her bill also calls for new reporting requirements for transactions.
The issue of lawmakers engaging in insider trading grew after 60 Minutes reported that Congressional members purchased companies’ stock during debates on laws that could affect the businesses. The report said that the investments under scrutiny weren’t illegal. Following the airing of the CBS News program, however, the measure, which is called the STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act and was first introduced in 2006, saw its number of co-sponsors rise to 171 House members.
Meantime, the Securities and Exchange Commissioning is cautioning against this type of insider trading ban for lawmakers over concern that this prohibition might narrow certain existing laws. SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami cautioned that any revisions should be “carefully calibrated” so that insider trading prosecutions that don’t involve Congressional members are not negatively impacted. Currently, the SEC uses general anti-fraud provisions to pursue those engaged in insider trading. These laws have never been applied to prosecuting lawmakers.
Rather than a congressional insider trading ban, Khuzami suggested the establishment of an explicit fiduciary obligation among Congress members to keep information obtained while on the job confidential and off limits for purposes of personal gain. General duty would then be used to pursue those that engage in insider trading.
House and Senate panels are expected to vote on an insider-trading ban, possibly as early as next year. The House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will vote on the STOCK Act this year.
Our stockbroker fraud attorneys work victims of insider trading. We have successfully helped thousands of investors throughout the country in recouping their money. We also have represented investors located abroad that have claims against investment firms based in the US.
Congressional Insider-Trading Ban Gains Bipartisan Support, Bloomberg Businessweek, December 7, 2011
SEC warns on congressional insider trading ban, Reuters, December 6, 2011
More Blog Posts:
Fiduciary Standard in Securities Industry Doesn’t Need New Definition, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 26, 2010
Hedge Fund Manager Raj Rajaratnam Ordered by SEC to Pay $92.8M Penalty for Insider Trading, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 12, 2011
Insider Trading: Former FrontPoint Partners Hedge Fund Manager Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, August 20, 2011
**This post has been backdated for publication