As those of you who’ve read today’s criminal indictment against SAC Capital know, prior to September 2008, the hedge fund had a policy to “automatically purge all instant messages after 36 hours and all e-mails not affirmatively saved after 30 days.” Then, after September 2008, a “revised document retention policy” was adopted, wherein everything was saved. Furthermore, employees of the firm were also aware that somewhere in a SAC office sat a team of people whose job in part was to review all electronic communications, scanning them for words, phrases, or conversations that might propose a problem for the firm. Luckily for anyone doing anything less than kosher, and talking about it, “prior to approximately late 2009, SAC’s compliance department rarely reviewed electronic communications by SAC employees for suspicious terms potential insider trading, notwithstanding the fact that the head of SAC compliance had recommended such searches to SAC management as early as 2005.” (It’s unclear what compliance was scanning IMs and emails for when it wasn’t looking for evidence of securities fraud, but tasty lunch orders to be intercepted in the lobby and ribald recaps of weekends in Hamptons share houses seem like good possibilities.) As late as, say, December 2008, one could be forgiven for forgetting that everything he or she was typing was being stored in a warehouse somewhere, but after that, they probably should have taken pains to not say anything that could be construed as minorly to majorly shady. And yet! Read more »

Presumably those who are ready should type MIND BLOWING DISPLAY <go> and hold onto their hats.

One thing that most people probably agree on is that having their instant messages, e-mails, and phone call transcripts end up court would be cause for at least a little embarrassment. Everyone’s thrown in an emoticon they aren’t proud of, some of us have used company time to chat with significant others about undergarments, and the vast majority of workers have spent a not insignificant amount of the workday talking shit about their superiors. Of course, the humiliation gets ratcheted up a notch in the case of people who ‘haha’ (and in extreme circumstances ‘hahahah’) their own jokes* which, just for example, involve habitual Libor manipulation. Tan Chi Min knows what we’re talking about:

“Nice Libor,” Tan said in an April 2, 2008, instant message with traders including Neil Danziger, who also was fired by RBS, and David Pieri. “Our six-month fixing moved the entire fixing, hahahah.”

And while having such an exchange become public would be tremendously awkward for most, you know what’s really ‘hahaha’ about this whole thing? That 1) Tan was the one who wanted people to read the above, which was submitted as part of a 231-page affidavit earlier this month and 2) He’s trying to use it as evidence that he didn’t deserve to be fired. Read more »

Remember the Galleon insider trading case? It’s still going on, and most recently, a federal judge has been asked to decide whether or not Raj Rajaratnam’s instant messages can be used in next year’s trial. Raj’s attorney’s, of course, would prefer the conversations to not be fair game, on the off chance he sent any messages to anyone with regard to the whole trading on material non-public information thing but there are others, too, who would like to avoid seeing the big man’s IMs going public.

For instance, there’s Stanley Druckenmiller, who spoke with Rajaratnam “regularly” prior to his arrest, in addition to Jim Pallota and Paul Tudor Jones, all of whom were in a fantasy football league together. None of the other men have done anything wrong but they would likely just prefer to avoid having their (screen)names mentioned in the same breath as an accused criminal. To that end, while she’s all good legally, a “longtime analyst” at George Weiss Associates would rather not have it come to light that she may have had a thing for ole Raj Raj. Read more »