Hedge Fund Legal & Compliance Digest Quotes Peter Altman on FOIA Process

Hedge Fund Legal & Compliance Digest has quoted Akin Gump senior counsel Peter Altman in the story “How Hedge Fund Managers Can Protect Sensitive and Proprietary Data from SEC FOIA Requests.”

Altman began by noting that all documents submitted to the SEC are subject to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) disclosure. The SEC, he said, “is required by law to look for what they have related to these specific requests. If the request was not made by the registered entity to have their materials protected, whatever the SEC may have from a particular firm could be subject to disclosure.”

The article reports that certain documents are exempt from public disclosure under FOIA, including those properly classified as secret in the interest of national security. In order to get confidential protection, however, Altman said you have to ask for it. “You can invoke a number of particular exemption requests,” he said. “Typically, when you produce information to the SEC—whether it’s to an examiner or an enforcement attorney—you should make a request that everything you produce be withheld from FOIA disclosure.”

Making a request for confidential treatment does not guarantee that the information will be protected from public disclosure, according to the article, though it does let the SEC know that a manager wants certain information to remain confidential. Altman said when making such a request, “the SEC should let you know if they disagree with your request for confidentiality, and it should alert you if someone makes a FOIA request for your firm’s information to give you the opportunity to object.”