As I read the indictment, the government is contending that Messrs. Cioffi and Tannin were required to disclose to investors immediately in February and March, 2007 that the two of them feared that the two funds might be “toast” even as Cioffi and other Bear executives were fighting market pessimism toward the funds and urging investors to maintain trust in their ultimate financial merit.
So, with their careers riding on whether the funds would survive, Cioffi and Tannin were supposed to throw in the towel and light a match to the funds by disclosing to the market their concerns about the heightened risk of a meltdown.
Stated simply, according to the Feds, about the time you think your trust-based business might be toast, it’s already too late. Inasmuch as you are required to disclose to the markets that you think the business might be toast, that disclosure will understandably prompt the market to lose trust in your business, which means that your company is kaput.
Thus, the smart thing to do is never to voice (and sure as heck don’t write any emails!) your concern to anyone regarding the downside risk of your business. That lack of communication might dampen internal company analysis regarding risk of loss, but what the hell — at least you won’t get indicted for misleading investors when your company fails.
Just another chapter in the twisted policy implications that result from regulating business through criminalizing businesspeople’s risk-taking. Larry Ribstein has typically insightful observations along the same lines, while Bess Levin muses over the Feds’ suggestion that investors didn’t know exactly what they were buying when investing in Bear’s funds.