• Ray Dirks, Whistleblower

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    Back in the news after 42 years

    On March 6, 1973, Ray Dirks got an unexpected phone call in the morning from an ex-employee of a West Coast life insurance company he was following called Equity Funding Corporation of America.  Dirks, 39, was the top insurance analyst on Wall Street at the time and EFCA was its hottest stock.

    The caller was Ron Secrist, a controller of the company who had just been fired for belly-aching about his tiny Christmas bonus.

    Fork in the road

    Whither Insider Trading?

    A precise definition, an absolute prohibition or something in between?

    Two senior hedge fund managers slip out of their insider trading convictions because the government couldn’t prove they knew whether the corporate insiders who initially divulged the tips they ultimately traded on were paid off for doing so.

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    Back to Basics for Insider Trading

    Who cares whether the original tipper got a quid pro quo?

    Todd Newman and Anthony Chiasson –hedge fund portfolio managers whose 2008 convictions and prison sentences1 for insider trading were just vacated by the Second Circuit Court in New York — can thank a Wall Street insurance analyst by the name of Raymond Dirks for their new-found innocence and freedom.

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    Hedge Funds in the Doldrums

    The deflating effects of underperformance and overregulation

    Warren Buffet’s wager with Protégé Partners epitomizes the gloom hovering over the hedge fund industry.  In 2008, the Oracle of Omaha bet the New York-based fund-of-funds $1 million that index funds would outperform hedge funds over the next 10 years. 

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    Liberating the Board of Directors

    Giving non-executives ultimate authority . . . and then holding them accountable

    In five years – maybe sooner — Boards of Directors in the US are going to govern their companies much more freely than they do now.    

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    Rebalancing Bonuses, for Goodness Sake

    Now where are the ‘animal spirits’ going to go?

    Deutsche Bank just took its most daring step yet to reprogram its workforce.  It adopted a policy denying the bank’s top-performing traders plum promotions and fat bonuses if they’re deemed to be “disruptive” or non-team players.  

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    Why Sukuk Are Catching On

    Publicly-beneficial financings with predictable revenues and profit potential

    This June, the UK became the first non-Muslim sovereign to issue sukuk and, later this month, South Africa will become the second.   Luxembourg and Hong Kong are reportedly soon to follow.   

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    Did Bill Ackman Trip over Allergan?

    In amassing his huge stake, he may have stepped into insider trading territory  

    If his death threat against Herbalife wasn’t risky enough, Bill Ackman’s recent hook-up with Michael Pearson of Valeant Pharmaceuticals has turned into an even more precarious campaign.