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SEC Chairman Views Cryptocurrency Markets as the “Wild West” and Calls for More Investor Protection

Posted  08/13/21
Cryptocurrency and US Hundred Dollar Bills Scattered Around
During a recent speech discussing the intersection of national security with cryptocurrencies at the Aspen Security Forum, Gary Gensler, the new Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), made clear the SEC will use its broad powers to continue protecting investors from the volatility associated with cryptocurrency markets which he characterized as the “Wild West.”  He also urged Congress to grant...

How will regulators respond to Bitcoin’s price fluctuations?

Posted  05/18/21
Bitcoins stacked with stocks rising
The price of Bitcoin—never stable—has become even more erratic in the last month.  From April 17 to May 17, the price fell 26%.  Such a huge drop would be noteworthy in a stock investment.  But in something claiming to be a currency, that kind of instability is normally only seen in times of crisis and hyperinflation.  Coming just as cryptocurrencies are making a play to be considered mainstream, this latest...

CFTC Whistleblower Program Faces Challenges of its Success: What Whistleblowers Should Know

Posted  05/11/21
Screenshot of CFTC Whistleblower Program web page
In May, 2021, the Wall Street Journal reported (paywall) on “turmoil” in the CFTC Whistleblower Program. According to the article, the CFTC has under consideration a whistleblower award based on a claim by a whistleblower in the 2015 $2.5 billion Deutsche Bank LIBOR manipulation settlement.  Given the size of the Deutsche Bank settlement, the potential whistleblower award is substantial: the Journal reports that...

CFTC: Looking for a Few Good Whistleblowers

Posted  05/7/21
Commodity Futures Trading Commission Logo
When it comes to their respective whistleblower programs, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) does not get the same respect or attention the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) does.  That is largely because the SEC Whistleblower Program has been an unparalleled success, with whistleblower awards being made (and highly promoted) virtually every week or two.  Last year was a record-breaking year for...

CFTC Clobbers Cryptocurrency Con Man

Posted  04/1/21
cryptocurrency scam
Last week, the CFTC announced that a federal court entered a nearly $600 million default judgment against a British man who used bitcoin to defraud more than 1,000 people worldwide.  The judgment is yet another indication that the CFTC will vigorously police cryptocurrency fraud.

The Scam

The CFTC filed a complaint against Benjamin Reynolds and his bitcoin trading and investment company, Control-Finance, back in...

Top Ten SEC and CFTC Recoveries of 2020

Posted  01/15/21
top ten list
Despite its many shortcomings, 2020 did bring great news for whistleblowers: record-breaking growth in the CFTC and SEC Whistleblower Programs, as well as massive enforcement actions by both agencies.  In this post, we will detail the Top Ten SEC and CFTC recoveries of 2020 in cases other than FCPA enforcement.  As detailed below, the SEC netted billions of dollars in penalties and restitution from companies accused...

Record-Setting Submissions: CFTC Whistleblower Program 2020 Annual Report Documents Increasing Popularity of Program

Posted  11/5/20
Commodity Futures Trading Commission seal on building
Every year, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is required to report to Congress about the CFTC Whistleblower Reward Program, created by the Dodd-Frank Act, which pays awards to eligible whistleblowers who voluntarily provide the Commission with original information, about matters within the CFTC’s jurisdiction, that leads to the recovery of more than $1 million in monetary sanctions.  This week, the CFTC...

JPMorgan Chase Pays nearly $1 Billion in Fines for Market Manipulation of Precious Metals and U.S. Treasuries

Posted  10/16/20
investors on computers for market trading
JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to pay over $955 million to settle civil and criminal charges over a scheme involving fake trades in precious metals and U.S. treasuries designed to manipulate the market in an effort to enhance the bank’s profits and cut losses. The multi-agency enforcement action was brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and...

CFTC Sets Sights on Binary Options Fraud

Posted  09/17/20
commodity futures trading commission logo
The CFTC continues its hot streak, aggressively pursuing fraudsters and rewarding whistleblowers who come forward with valuable information.  One particular enforcement trend stands out: a number of high-profile settlements related to illegal binary options trading platforms. Binary options are the OTB of the stock market—a method of gambling whether particular stocks will go up or down without actually...

Catch of the Week: Bank of Nova Scotia Fined for Commodities Fraud and False Statements to Investigators

Posted  08/21/20
building of a bank
Self-disclosure offers wrong-doing corporations a path to leniency: Fess up, the government says, and we’ll go easier on you.  But as the Bank of Nova Scotia learned, you had better reveal the full extent of the problem, or you are just making your problem worse. The Bank had made a self-disclosure that secured it's leniency and an $800,000 deal for charges of commodities fraud.  When the CFTC later determined...
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