Banks charged in U.S. over market 'spoofing'

Banks charged in U.S. over market 'spoofing'

The UBS trader, Andre Flotron of Switzerland, was charged with conspiring with other UBS precious metal traders in spoofing scams between 2008 and 2013.

"Shall we spoof", one boneheaded trader asked another in a 2011 chat room, according to an order from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The U.S. Justice Department and the country's derivatives regulator said on Monday they had filed civil and criminal charges against three European banks, which paid $46.6 million to settle the cases, and eight individuals for alleged manipulation in U.S. futures and commodities market.

The U.S. Department of Justice indictment includes Edward Bases, 55, of New Canaan, and John Pacilio, 53, of Fairfield, who are charged with spoofing activities while trading in precious metals.

Spoofing, which is illegal, is when a trader places thousands of bids to buy or sell a stock for the sole goal of moving the stock. In August, a federal appeals court upheld the conviction of the first USA trader to face prison time for manipulating futures prices using spoofing tactics.

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Deutsche Bank and UBS have agreed to pay $30 million and $15 million respectively to settle the civil charges in the case, while HSBC will pay $1.6 million, the CFTC said. That creates the illusion of demand, inflating prices to benefit the trader's market positions. Two other financial institutions were also penalized: HSBC for $1.6 million and Deutsche Bank for $30 million and HSBC $1.6 million.

"Spoofing is a particularly pernicious example of bad actors seeking to manipulate the market through the abuse of technology", James McDonald, the CFTC's head of enforcement, said in a statement on Monday. All three cooperated with the investigation.

Mr. Flotron's lawyer, Marc Mukasey, said the new case "is an especially enormous waste of taxpayers' money because the CFTC knows darn well that there is a pending criminal matter, that Mr. Flotron has always been retired from the business, and that he lives in Switzerland".

HSBC said the bank was pleased to have resolved the matter. "When this conduct was in its heyday, which is now seven to eight years ago, people weren't looking to detect it like they are now".

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