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Portfolio Manager Made Personal Loan to CEO to Get on Board

 A portfolio manager of an activist investment firm failed to disclose a $3 Million personal loan to the CEO of a company in which he invested.  The portfolio manager made the loan, according to the SEC, to secure the CEO’s support for his election to the Board as part of a broader initiative to exert control over the company.  The SEC asserts that the portfolio manager violated his fiduciary duty to his clients by concealing his personal interest and that the investment manager failed to file a Schedule 13D (indicating more than passive investment).  Also, the SEC faults the adviser for failing to implement a reasonable compliance program because the policies and procedures “did not discuss conflicts of interest more broadly in sufficient depth so as to capture and train employees to recognize other violative conduct not specifically identified.”

OUR TAKE: Because portfolio managers are often treated like the rock stars of investment management, compli-pros must implement heightened supervision to protect against reckless actions that will ultimately hurt the firm.  Procedures should include reviews of investment decisions, due diligence about personal dealings, reviews of transactions outside the ordinary course, and training all employees how to identify unlawful activity.