Yesterday, the SEC announced a settlement under which Deerfield Management Company L.P. (“Deerfield”), a hedge fund adviser, agreed to pay more than $4.6 million.[i] The SEC charged Deerfield with failing to “establish, maintain and enforce policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent the illegal use of inside information”[ii] as required by Section 204A of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”).[iii]
The SEC cited Deerfield for failing to tailor its policies and procedures “to address the specific risks presented by its business.”[iv] In particular, Deerfield’s reliance on third-party political intelligence firms to provide insight into upcoming legislative and regulatory action created the risk that Deerfield would receive and illegally trade on inside information (e.g., a regulator’s unannounced decision to finalize a rule that would materially affect certain industries and publicly traded companies).[v]
The SEC’s settlement with Deerfield serves as a warning for advisers utilizing investment strategies dependent on obtaining or correctly predicting non-public information (e.g., unannounced mergers and acquisitions or the governmental approval of a pharmaceutical product), particularly those advisers partnering with third party consultants and analysts. Such advisers should consider whether their current policies and procedures address the specific risks likely to arise under such strategies and partnerships.