Monday, June 10, 2013

Two People Can Keep a Secret...

...As long as one of them is dead.

Hundreds in government had advance word of Medicare action at heart of trading-spike probe
Hundreds of federal employees were given advance word of a Medicare decision worth billions of dollars to private insurers in the weeks before the official announcement, a period when trading in the shares of those firms spiked.

The surge of trading in Humana’s and other private health insurers’ stock before the April 1 announcement already has prompted the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Wall Street investors had advance access to inside information about the then-confidential Medicare funding plan.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Washington Post late last week that his office reviewed the e-mail records of employees at the Department of Health and Human Services and found that 436 of them had early access to the Medicare decision as much as two weeks before it was made public.

The number of federal employees with advance knowledge is surely higher; the figures Grassley’s staff compiled did not include people at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget who also saw the information. The e-mail records of those employees have not been made available to Grassley.
There's absolutely no way that a "secret" known by about 500 people, most of whom presumably have no training in security, is going to be kept for any length of time.  The problem is that government actions can have so much power to influence the value of private

The first thing that should be done is to have the investment records of the 500 or so federal employees that had this knowledge ahead of time examined for any personally directed trades that resulted in any financial gain from this spike.  Make it absolutely clear that personal trading on "insider" governmental information is as illegal as the personal trading based on insider business information that Martha Stewart was accused of is illegal.  (She, of course, was not convicted of insider trading as a result of the trades, but rather of lying to government investigators and impeding the investigation).  Those charges and penalties should be applicable to federal workers as well.

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