No corporate legal issue captures public attention quite like insider trading. These cases epitomize the worst stereotypes of Wall Street and often involve high-profile individuals. Government prosecutors and securities regulators also are drawn to insider trading cases, and pursue them vigorously. The US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan alone obtained 85 consecutive insider trading convictions, through trials and guilty pleas, until eventually being dealt an acquittal in 2014. Both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have publicly identified insider trading as an enforcement priority, and the US Supreme Court is currently poised to weigh in on disputed issues in this area.
This article provides an overview of insider trading law and looks at current issues and trends in the context of government investigations, criminal prosecutions, and civil enforcement proceedings.