If the Second Circuit concludes that, after Kelly, confidential government information does not constitute property, the Court could reverse the convictions on this ground while leaving unaddressed its prior holding that there is no personal benefit requirement in Title 18 insider trader cases. As the petitioners warned the Supreme Court, prosecutors in this scenario would likely treat this silence as a green light to continue to charge insider-trading crimes where there is little to no evidence of a personal benefit to the tipper, or tippee knowledge of that benefit. Of course, under such circumstances, prosecutors would not have the benefit of Blaszczak to rely on, and thus there could be litigation risk to the government depending on the facts of the particular case.
- Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Second Circuit Lowers the Bar for Charging Criminal Insider Trading (Jan. 7, 2020)
The court held that the “personal benefit” test for insider trading established by the Supreme Court in Dirks v. SEC does not apply to wire and securities fraud under Title 18 of the U.S. Code. Additionally, the court held that confidential government information constitutes “property” for the purposes of federal fraud statutes. The ruling will make it easier for the government to prosecute insider trading even when there is no clear benefit to the source who provided the information. (footnote omitted)