Insider Trading, Official Corruption, and Their Common Roots in Fraud

June 1, 2016  |  The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

Insider trading and official corruption prosecutions—two of the cornerstones of recent white-collar enforcement efforts by the Department of Justice—have both generated sufficient doctrinal confusion to land them on the Supreme Court’s docket this year and next. This past April, the Court heard the appeal of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell from his corruption conviction, and next term, the Court is set to hear Bassam Salman’s appeal from his insider trading conviction. On the surface, these cases have little in common: McDonnell concerns what constitutes a sufficient “official action” to trigger criminal liability under anti-corruption laws, and Salman concerns what constitutes a sufficient “personal benefit” to trigger criminal liability under insider trading precedent. But beneath the surface, the legal doctrines at issue are related, in that both official corruption and insider trading cases are rooted in theories of fraud. Further, one of the fundamental principles of fraud—that a material misrepresentation is an element of the crime—could provide important guidance as to how these cases and others might be resolved. [...]

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