In August 2021, the SEC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court charging Matthew Panuwat, a former employee of Medivation Inc., an oncology-focused biopharma, with insider trading in advance of Medivation’s announcement that it would be acquired by a big pharma company. But it wasn’t your average run-of-the-mill insider trading case. Panuwat didn’t trade in shares of Medivation or shares of the acquiror, nor did he tip anyone about the transaction. No, according to the SEC, he engaged in what has been referred to as “shadow trading”; he used the information about his employer’s acquisition to purchase call options on another biopharma, which the SEC claimed was comparable to Medivation. (See this PubCo post.) Since then, we’ve seen the usual moves on the chess board (discussed briefly below). But what’s particularly interesting, as Alison Frankel pointed out in Reuters, is the amicus brief filed by the Investor Choice Advocates Network, a self-described “nonprofit, public interest organization focused on expanding access to markets by underrepresented investors and entrepreneurs.” In its brief, ICAN contended that the SEC’s invocation of the novel “shadow-trading” theory made this a “major questions” case—a judicial torpedo that we might begin to see fired with some regularity.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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