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Chinese Walls: The Transformation of a Good Business Practice

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 26 Issue: 1 Dated: (Summer 1988) Pages: 155-179
J R Doty; D N Powers
Date Published
25 pages
This review of the emergence of the 'chinese wall' as a centerpiece of legal compliance procedures in securities firms emphasizes that these procedures are good business practices for business firms, although they have developed without resolution by the courts of the premises on which they are based.
Chinese walls are policies and procedures intended to prevent the misuse of inside information in securities trading by limiting the availability of material, nonpublic information to departments of the firm that might misuse such information. During the 14 years since an appellate court decision left the concept of the chinese wall intact, elaborate and effective chinese wall procedures are widely used and may soon become fundamental compliance requirements for all integrated securities firms. Firms that do not currently have such procedures should consider implementing them. They should consider including the following elements: 1) separate investment banking and brokerage subsidiaries or divisions that maintain separate records, 2) separate compensation systems for departments on different sides of the wall, 3) physical separation of operations, 4) monitoring of telephone calls between operations, 5) restricted access to files, 6) restrictions on transfers of personnel across the chinese wall, 7) restrictions and disclosure requirements for employees' securities transactions, 8) lists of stocks for which transactions are restricted, 9) internal audits, and l0) education of all employees. 57 footnotes.