Activist Hedge Fund Fined for Secret Payments to Researcher

A sweeping US probe of activist short sellers has yielded its first notable punishment, while offering a rare glimpse into controversial collaborations between bearish researchers and hedge funds that place big bets against companies.

The Securities and Exchange Commission fined affiliated money managers Anson Funds Management and Anson Advisors Inc. a total of $2.25 million on Tuesday, accusing them of hiding payments to an unidentified publisher of bearish research. A hedge fund they oversaw generated more than $4 million in gains in late 2018 by collaborating with the outsider on the timing of negative reports and social media posts, the SEC said. It secretly paid the researcher $1.1 million.

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