Articles Posted in CFTC

A British day trader has pleaded guilty to spoofing and wire fraud involving the 2010 Flash Crash. Navinder Singh Sarao was accused of making $40M while spoofing the stock futures market of CME Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CME)  for more than five years. He also will forfeit $12.9M of the ill-gotten gains that he made from trading. Sarao is facing a maximum of 30 years in prison. It was during the 2010 Flash Crash that a trading frenzy briefly took down nearly $1 trillion from American equities.

To face the 22 criminal charges against him for market manipulation and fraud, the day trader had to be extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States. US prosecutors accused him of rigging the futures on the S & P 500 Index.

Spoofing involves manipulating prices by placing trade orders but with no plans of executing them. The purpose is to send prices moving in one direction but then cancelling the trades prior to execution in order to make money off the prices going back to where they originally were before the manipulation.

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IB Capital FX, Two Dutch Citizens to Pay Over $35M to Customers
IB Capital FX, LLC, Emad Echadi, and Michel Geurkink must pay, severally and jointly, a $420K civil penalty and $35M in restitution for soliciting at least $50M from 1,850 customers internationally and in the US even though they lacked the required registration for trading that involved off-exchange margined retail foreign (forex) currency. Also, the firm should have been registered with the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

It was the CFTC that obtained the consent order, which permanently prevents the defendants from violating CFTC Regulations and the Commodity Exchange Act further. They also are now subject to permanent registration and trading bans.

$21.8M Default Judgment Issued is in Ponzi Scam
In a default judgment, Puerto Rico resident Alvin Guy Wilkinson and his Wilkinson Financial Opportunity Fund, LP and Chicago Index Partners, LP—both are Connecticut-based financial firms—will jointly and severally pay $21.8M for misappropriating commodity pool funds in a purported Ponzi scam. According to the CFTC’s order, the defendants committed fraud, did not register with the SEC, engaged in misappropriation, and made misrepresentations to the National Futures Association.

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The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has filed a civil case against Deutsche Bank AG (DB). According to the regulator, for five days the firm, which is a provisionally registered Swap Dealer, did not report any swap data for a number of asset classes, turned in untimely and unfinished swap information, failed to supervise the staff responsible for the reporting of the swap data, and had an inadequate Business and Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan.

The bank’s swap data reporting system had suffered a System Outage. The CFTC said that the swap data reported prior to and after the outage showed that there had been ongoing problems with specific data fields and their integrity. As a result, the market data issued to the public was affected. Some of it purportedly continues to be affected to this day. The CFTC said that a reason for the System Outage and the reporting problems is that Deutsche Bank lacked an adequate Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan or another supervisory system that was equally satisfactory.

Earlier this month, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined Deutsche Bank $12.5M for substantive supervisory failures involving trading-related information and research that the firm had issued to employees over internal speakers, also referred to as squawk boxes. The self-regulatory organization said that even though there were red flags related to this matter, Deutsche Bank neglected to set up supervision that was adequate over both the access that registered representatives had to the “squawk,” or “hoots,” which is the information issue through the squawk boxes, and the communication of this data to customers.

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Investment Advisor Firm Accused of Paying Off Terminally Ill Patients to Commit Fraud
The SEC has filed fraud charges against Donald Lathen and his Eden Arc Capital Management. Lathen is accused of recruiting at least 60 individuals who had less than six months to live and agreeing to pay them $10K each for the use of their names on joint brokerage accounts. When one of these individuals would die, he would allegedly redeem the investments by falsely representing that he and the terminally individual person were joint account holders.

Lathen recruited the terminally ill patients through contacts he had at hospices and nursing homes. In reality, it was Lathen’s hedge fund that owned the option investments.

As a result, of the purported omissions and misrepresentations, issuers paid over $100M in early redemptions. Lathen is accused of violating the custody rule by not properly putting the securities and money from the hedge fund in an account under the name of the fund or in one that held only client money and securities.

SEC Stops Trading in Neromamam Ltd.
The SEC has stopped the trading of Neuromama Ltd. (NERO) shares. The shares trade on the mostly unregulated over-the-counter markets and the regulator is concerned about transactions that may be “potentially manipulative, as well as other red flags that have purportedly been cropping up for years.

Neruomama’s paper value went up times four to $35B this year despite not much volume. The company’s shares went up by four times to $56/share. (On January 15, ’14, its value was $4.73B.)

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Atlantas Group Inc. and hits owner and president Edmund Hysni have reached a $7.2M settlement with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The money is restitution and civil penalty to settle charges of solicitation fraud and the purported making by Hysni of material false statements to the National Futures Association.

According to the CFTC order, between ’06 and ’12 Atlantas and Hysni falsely represented to customers that they would be giving back about 300% of customers’ initial investments, their investment strategy was conservative and safe, and their performance history was a successful one. The charges against the firm and Hysni are related to options on futures contracts trading that took place on the Commodity Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade.

The regulator said that contrary to the misrepresentations, Hysni and Atlantas invested clients’ funds in an out-of-the-money option spread that caused customers to suffer financial losses. Also, Atlantas is accused of collecting about 90% of clients’ losses in commissions while misrepresenting the impact of the commissions. The commissions, said the SEC, affected customer losses and profits, the trading strategy used, and how much Atlantas charged customers.

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Ex-Wall Street Executive Admits to Bilking Friends and Relatives
Andrew Caspersen has pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges accusing him of defrauding relatives, friends, and Moore Charitable Foundation of $40M. Caspersen is an ex-Wall Street executive and a member of the wealthy Caspersen family. The charitable foundation he bilked belongs to billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Bacon and his investment firm Moore Capital Management.

Caspersen, 39, pleaded guilty to one charge of wire fraud and one charge of security fraud. Each criminal charge comes with a maximum term of 20 years behind bars.

Caspersen’s defense team initially argued that he was addicted to gambling and suffered from mental illness, which were what supposedly compelled him to run his multi-million dollar Ponzi-like scam. His mother, close friends, the family of an ex-girlfriend, and others were among those whom he bilked.

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Citibank (C) is the first U.S. bank to settle allegations of benchmark interest rate manipulation. To resolve the Commodities Futures Trading Commission claims that it manipulated the London Interbank Offered Rates (LIBOR), Citibank will pay $250M. It will pay $175M to resolve Euroyen Tibor and Yen Libor rigging claims. Also settling charges within this case are Citibank Japan Ltd (CJL) and Citigroup Global Markets Japan Inc. (CGMJ).

The CFTC claims that between ’07 and ‘12 Citigroup had specific traders input false information so their trading positions would benefit. It also claims that the bank’s affiliates issued false reports related to dollar Libor rates and ISDAFIX benchmark rates during the financial crisis so that its reputation would be protected.

Citigroup Global Markets Japan is charged with trying to rig Euroyen TIBOR and Yen LIBOR. Citibank Japan Ltd. is accused of engaging in false reporting related to the Euroyen TIBOR so that derivatives trading positions priced according to Euroyen TIBOR and Yen LIBOR would purportedly benefit.

Libor, along with the Tokyo Interbank Offered Rate (Tibor), is what banks use to establish the cost of borrowing from one another. Libor is also used to set the rates on mortgages, credit cards, derivatives, and other financial products.

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Galileo Trading to Pay Penalties and Restitution to Settle Commodity Futures Fraud Charges
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is filing fraud charges against Nathan Schleifer and his Galileo Trading LLC. Schleifer and his firm are accused of fraudulently soliciting customers to get them to trade commodity futures and for making a number of false statements and material representations to the National Futures Association about their trading practices.

The SEC said that from at least ’99 – ’14, Schleifer and his firm fraudulently obtained at least $2.8M from a number of people for supposed trading in a pooled investment in commodity futures. The Commission claims that Galileo and Schleifer misrepresented to pool participants that they’d had previous success trading in futures. They also purportedly claimed that they were making a lot of money for these pool participants when in reality there were substantial losses.

Schleifer is accused of falsely claiming that he was a skilled money manager. He guaranteed investors minimum returns and told them their money was safe. When at least one individual tried to take money out, Schleifer said he lost the funds during a flash crash in May. Later, he admitted that he lost all of the investor’s money years ago.

CFTC Permanently Bans Trader from Registering with the CFTC
The CFTC has settled charges against Brian Hinman for aiding and abetting a commodity pool fraud involving a number of Texas-based entities owned by Kevin G. White and for the fraudulent solicitation of participants to get involved in Revelation Forex Fund, a foreign currency exchange pool. It was in 2013 that the CFTC filed a federal court action against White and his KGW Capital Management, LLC and RFF GP, LLC. They were ordered to pay $3,365,888 in restitution and a civil penalty of over $4.1M. White is now serving prison time for mail fraud.

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Banc de Binary Ltd. has settled a fraud lawsuit by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the SEC accusing the Cypriot financial trading company of illegally signing American investors to join its binary options trading program. According to the regulators, from 2011 and 2013, Banc de Binary pursued and took orders from U.S. customers on contracts connected to currency, commodity, and stock prices. By doing this, the company purportedly got around a ban in the US that prohibited off-exchange binary option contracts and received net deposits of $11M from over 6,000 U.S. customers

As part of the settlement, the financial trading company has agreed to pay $7.1M in disgorgement and restitution and $2M in penalties to the CFTC. It will pay the SEC $1.95M in civil penalties. $9.05M of the settlement will go toward paying back the U.S. customers who suffered harm in this matter. Oren Laurent, who is the founder of Banc de Binary, will pay $150K in the settlement.

Banc de Binary is considered the biggest binary options operator. Binary options offer all or nothing payouts according to price moves. They remain unregulated in a lot of the world.

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J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) will pay $307M to resolve Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission charges accusing two of its units of not telling wealthy clients about certain conflicts of interest. The JPM businesses are J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, its wealth management investment advisory business that offers investment products to clients that have a net worth of $250K – $5M, and JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A., its U.S. private bank that deals with clients that have a $5M net worth or greater.

According to the agreement, the investment advisory service did not tell wealth management customers that its Chase Strategic Portfolio, which is a program for wealth management customers, favored mutual funds managed by the firm. For several years, the program put about $10 billion of $32.6 billion in proprietary funds, and until the earlier part of 2012, at least 47% of the assets were in such funds.

The private bank also showed a similar preference toward the bank’s products. It was not until 2011 that it told clients that language in its disclosures noting that it preferred managers affiliated with JPM had been “mistakenly” removed. The language was not put back until last year.

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