Mid-year Report on Insider-Trading Enforcement

Christopher Steskal, Chair of the White Collar/Regulatory Group and member of the Securities Litigation Group with Fenwick & West, was recently quoted in the Compliance Week article entitled, "Mid-Year Report on Insider-Trading Enforcement."

The mid-year report on insider-trading prosecutions at the Securities and Exchange Commission found investigations continuing at a brisk pace, and prosecutors using broader legal theories to catch more possible offenders.

"There hasn't been any let up by the SEC this year," says Steskal, a former federal prosecutor and now partner at the law firm Fenwick & West. He says he now spends about 25 percent of his time on insider-trading issues, compared to 10 percent last year. "The cases brought this year show that the SEC has continued to target Wall Street professionals and so-called gatekeepers who trade on inside information," he says.

This year is expected to remain busy on the domestic insider-trading front as well. Steskal notes that in the first half of this year, the SEC brought enforcement actions against a former PricewaterhouseCoopers auditor and a former Ernst & Young partner for trading on inside information. Many cases in 2007 and 2008 also focused on trading activity ahead of a merger or acquisition, he adds.

"If we see a decline in the number of enforcement actions toward the end of the year or next year, it will not be because the SEC is no longer focusing on insider trading, but rather because of a market-wide slowdown in M&A activity," Steskal says.​