We regularly have conversations with our clients about whether particular non-public information is "material," who at the company knows about such information and whether certain individuals should be allowed to engage in securities transactions while such information remains non-public. Very often these conversations revolve around who knows what and when, how developed the facts are, etc. As a rule of thumb we advise clients to think about how things would look in hindsight if they came to light in a front page story on the cover of the Wall Street Journal.
Well, the General Counsel of Equifax is dealing with exactly that situation (see article from today's cover of The Wall Street Journal). As outsiders, we don’t know what exactly the general counsel (or outside counsel if they were involved) said to the insiders whose trades are being investigated, what the insiders knew or for that matter what the GC knew. We don’t know how Equifax’s insider trading policy operated in practice. All we currently know is that trades were made after the cyber-breach was known to at least some individuals – and that doesn’t look so good on the cover of the Wall Street Journal. Whether and how this will make our advice and our clients’ actions regarding allowing trades, time will tell, but it’s a good reminder that the conversations around these topics are not just theoretical.