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Guidelines on the Treatment of Insider Information in the Storting

Adopted by the Storting’s Presidium on 14th December 2023.

1. Purpose 

The Securities Trading Act (29th June no. 75) incorporated the EU’s Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) into Norwegian law. The Act and the Regulation impose strict obligations on persons who have had access to insider information. These statutory duties also apply to Members of the Storting (MPs), and members of staff in the parliamentary party group secretariats and the Storting’s administration.
The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure that all those involved are acquainted with these statutory duties, and to prevent the illegal disclosure of insider information in the Storting.

2. Overview of prohibitions and obligations

The following prohibitions apply for persons who are in possession of insider information: 

  • Prohibition of personally engaging or attempting to engage in insider dealing (MAR article 14 a)
  • Prohibition of recommending that another person engage in insider dealing (MAR art. 14 b)
  • Prohibition of the illegal disclosure of information (MAR art. 14 c and art. 10 no. 1). Disclosure of information may take place as part of the normal performance of duties (i.e. information may be shared if it is considered to be strictly necessary in an official capacity).
Any person who wilfully or through negligence infringes specific provisions in the Market Abuse Regulation may be punished by a fine or by imprisonment of up to six years.

3. What is insider information?

In short, insider information may be described as non-public information which has the potential to influence the price of one or more financial instruments (e.g. shares and bonds) which are being traded on a trading venue (e.g. the Oslo Stock Exchange, Euronext, Expand, Euronext Growth) or related financial instruments.
Finanstilsynet (the public body to promote financial stability and efficient markets) works on the premise that insider information is based on four main criteria.
Insider information constitutes information which:

  1. is precise
  2. has not been made public
  3. directly or indirectly relates to one or more issuers of financial instruments or related derivative financial instruments
  4. has the potential to noticeably influence the price of the financial instruments or related derivative financial instruments if the information is made public.
Two underlying questions should be asked as the basis for assessing whether information may be considered insider information:

  • If this information were made public, would it have the potential to influence the price?
  • Would a reasonable investor who had access to this information be likely to use it as part of the basis for an investment decision?
If the answer to these questions is yes, it is probably insider information. 
It is relatively infrequent that propositions and reports from the Government contain information which indicates that insider information might be generated during consideration in the Storting. The responsible government ministry should be contacted in cases of doubt.
Examples of the type of matter which might generate insider information:

  • Tax proposals which apply to specific industries (e.g. Prop. 2 LS [2023-2024] resource rent tax on onshore wind power).
  • Matters relating to other public measures and regulations directed at specific industries, for example, the prohibition of various types of business or changed framework conditions, and matters relating to the conclusion of large contracts or procurements.
  • Matters relating to the allocation of concessions or subsidies.
Here, the Fiscal Budget is in a unique position, since the negotiations between the parties in the Storting may result in agreement on, for example, new subsidy schemes or new or significant changes to existing taxes and duties.
The exact point at which information becomes so specific as to be considered insider information may be difficult to determine in advance. This would indicate that, as a precautionary measure and from the outset of proceedings, all parties involved show heightened awareness of how to treat information, for instance at the start of negotiations. 

4. Consideration in committee

The consideration in committee of a matter which contains insider information may necessitate the disclosure of the said information to certain people for professional reasons. In addition to MPs, advisers and committee secretaries, this may include other members of staff in the Storting’s administration who work in the production of the committee’s recommendation. The committee chair must ensure that arrangements are made for the proper treatment of information, and that the committee retains a record of everybody who has had access to insider information.
One way to increase information security would be for the committee to decide to classify the documents it issues during the consideration of a matter (e.g. draft recommendations, questions to government ministers, etc.) in accordance with the Information Protection Instructions (IPI). Section 75 a of the Storting’s Rules of Procedure (pdf) states that the IPI may be used to classify information issued by the Storting. The classification would be binding for all persons involved in the work on a recommendation.
Reference is made to the Supplementary Guidelines to the Storting’s Rules of Procedure §75 a on the Treatment of Classified Information, passed by the Storting’s Presidium in November 2019 and updated in October 2022, for further guidance.

5. Political negotiations under the auspices of the parties in the Storting 

To a large extent, the real clarifications regarding the individual parties’ political positions generally take place outside the framework of formal committee work. The information which is prepared and exchanged during these processes must be viewed as the parliamentary party groups’ information. This means that it is the personal responsibility of the MPs and staff in the party group secretariats who are dealing with the matter to identify insider information and treat it accordingly. This includes retaining a record of people who have access to insider information.

6. Publication 

The publication of insider information should be done in a manner that does not cause unrest in the financial markets. If possible, it should therefore be done outside the stock exchange’s opening hours. This applies both when the publication takes the form of, for example, a news conference relating to the result of negotiations between the parties, and with the publication of a committee recommendation. The announcement of a press conference should also preferably be made outside the stock exchange’s opening hours.
If, however, there have been leaks which have led to speculation in the financial markets, the information should be made public as soon as possible, even if this is during the stock exchange’s opening hours.
In certain instances, it might be appropriate to take the opening hours of foreign trading venues into consideration.
Last updated: 29.02.2024 10:18