SEC Enforcer Says Insider-Trading ‘Systemic,’ Expresses ‘Concern’ About Hedge Funds

Nov 17 2009 | 3:50am ET

Insider-trading may be widespread in the hedge fund industry, the head of enforcement for the Securities and Exchange Commission said.

Robert Khuzami said his office’s recent crackdown on insider-trading, which has snared several hedge funds, including the Galleon Group, may be an indication that such activity is “systemic” among hedge funds. And he warned that anyone engaged in illicit trading on insider-tips “should be worried.”

Speaking at the Bloomberg Washington Summit, Khuzami said that “the vast majority of hedge funds and others operate in a lawful manner.” But he added that “there are some aspects to hedge-fund operations that do give enforcement types like myself concern,” including algorithmic trading, dark pools and poor attitudes towards compliance.

“You have funds whose business model consisted of vigorous attempts to collect information from corporate insiders and to utilize that information to trade,” Khuzami said. But he warned that his agency’s crackdown on insider-trading would continue, and that it was becoming harder to get away with.

New regulations, including mandatory registration with the SEC, will make it easier to catch wrongdoing among hedge funds, he said. What’s more, the widely-publicized crackdown, which has netted more than 20 alleged insider-traders, has led to an “uptick” in individuals reporting alleged misconduct to the agency.

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