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September 18, 2019

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed an emergency action against Mediatrix Capital Inc. and three of its principals for misrepresenting the profitability of an algorithmic international trading program, which the company claimed had returned “more than 1,600 percent” since its inception. According to the SEC’s complaint, the trading strategy instead consistently failed to perform, losing $18 million in 2018 alone. The company also allegedly misled investors by falsifying statements and misusing funds to pay for personal purchases, including luxury cars. The SEC estimates that Mediatrix put a total of $125 million of investor funds at risk. SEC

September 16, 2019

Two investment banks--Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc. and BMO Capital Markets--pay $2.7 million and and $1.95 million in penalties, respectively, for failing to provide accurate data to the SEC. Broker-dealers must provide what is known as "blue sheet data," information about securities trading information that the SEC uses to monitor and investigate transactions. For a period of seven years, both entities failed to provide data and inaccurately reported information for several millions of transactions. The banks also admitted the SEC's allegations that they did not have proper mechanisms in place to verify the accuracy of their submissions. SEC

September 16, 2019

Heraeus Metals New York LLC and its employee John Lawrence have been ordered by the CFTC to pay a total of $1.03 million for their actions in spoofing orders for precious metals futures.  Between 2017 and 2018, Lawrence placed hundreds of large orders in the COMEX silver and gold futures markets with the intent to cancel the orders before execution.  Lawrence intended that these larger spoofed orders would attract market participants to fill smaller, genuine, orders that he had also placed.  CFTC

September 12, 2019

Ronald Hardy and Dennis Verdosa, both formerly associated with Power Traders Press and My Street Research, were sentenced to, respectively, 10 years and 6 years in prison following their 2018 guilty pleas for their roles in a "boiler room" operation that defrauded investors, many elderly, of $147 million.  Defendants artificially inflated the price and trading volume of stock in certain publicly-traded companies, and misrepresented the advisability of purchasing the stock and its potential profitability to victim investors.  The defendants often themselves held interests in the companies, and profited when their victims lost.   USAO EDNY

September 9, 2019

The CFTC has simultaneously filed a complaint and settled charges against a CFTC registrant, Nathan Harris, who was charged with committing fraud, trading without authorization, and violating speculative position limits in live cattle futures contracts between 2012 and 2014.  Harris has been ordered to pay $1.25 million for causing customer losses of $10.3 million.  CFTC

August 15, 2019

Kraft Foods Group and Mondalēz Global LLC have been ordered to pay a $16 million penalty for allegedly manipulating the wheat market in the summer of 2011.  Defendants’ orders for wheat futures contracts worth $90 million resulted in false demand signals, and accomplished the actual goal of defendants, which was to narrow the price spread on wheat futures, and lower cash wheat prices.  Defendants were able to earn more than $5 million in profits.  CFTC

July 18, 2019

Swapnil Rege, who worked as a portfolio manager for a hedge fund that operated as a commodity pool operator, was been ordered by the CFTC  and SEC to pay a $100,000 civil penalty and disgorge a $600,000 performance bonus he received as a result of his fraudulent mismarking the valuations of interest rate swaps.  The mismarking, accomplished through various means, artifically inflated the profitability of his trades, earning him a larger performance bonus.  SEC, CFTC

June 25, 2019

Merrill Lynch Commodities, Inc. (MLCI) has agreed to pay $25 million for spoofing and manipulating the precious metals market on the Commodity Exchange from 2008 to 2014.  In the non-prosecution agreement signed with DOJ, MLCI admitted that its employees had placed thousands of fraudulent orders to create a false sense of demand and induce other market participants to make purchases or sales.  CFTC, DOJ

February 15, 2019

Following his conviction at trial for securities fraud and related charges, attorney James M. Schneider of Boca Raton, Florida, was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $19.7 million to over 2,000 investors.  From 2008 to 2013, Schneider and his co-conspirators created approximately 20 shell companies, falsely representing their ownership and control in SEC filings before offering their securities for sale.  The conspirators would then use the shell company shares in pump-and-dump and other manipulation schemes.  USAO SD FL
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