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CFTC Enforcement Actions

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is the United States agency with primary responsibility for enforcing the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and regulating commodity futures and related markets. Whistleblowers with knowledge of violations of laws and regulations enforced by the CFTC can submit a claim under the CFTC Whistleblower Reward Program, and may be eligible to receive a monetary reward and protection against retaliation by employers.

Below are summaries of recent CFTC settlements or successful enforcement actions. If you believe you have information about fraud which could give rise to a CFTC enforcement action and claim under the CFTC Whistleblower Reward Program, please contact us to speak with one of our experienced whistleblower attorneys.

November 22, 2019

BGC Financial, L.P., a futures industry voice broker and registered futures commission merchant, has agreed to pay a $3 million civil monetary penalty to resolve CFTC charges that the company did not have an adequate supervisory system and failed to adequately perform its supervisory duties, including with respect to its traditional and block trading futures brokerage businesses. In addition, BGC violated recordkeeping, reporting, and other obligations, and failed to inform the CFTC of investigations by other regulatory entities.  CFTC

November 8, 2019

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. will pay $14.475 million -- a $10 million penalty, and $4.475 million in restitution -- to resolve CFTC charges related to the bank's actions in a single 2014 FX forward contract trade valued at approximately $4 billion.  The contract required Wells Fargo to calculate the price based on a weighted average spot rate on the relevant day.  However, Wells Fargo had no system in place to accurately determine such a rate, but rather that inform the counterparty of that fact, Wells Fargo simply picked a rate it believed was in the range and provided the counterparty with a false spreadsheet that purported to calculate the rate but that did not, in fact, reflect relevant trades.  CFTC

November 7, 2019

Tower Research Capital, LLC, a proprietary trading firm, has been ordered to pay a record $67.4 million for engaging in a manipulative and deceptive spoofing scheme from 2012 to 2013.  The Commission found that when Tower traders had genuine orders on one side of the market, they would also place orders on the other side that they intended to cancel before execution, intending to create a false impression of supply and demand to induce other market participants to trade against their genuine orders. The judgment for over $32.6 million in restitution, $10.5 million in disgorgement, and $24.4 million in civil monetary penalty is reportedly the largest ever ordered in a spoofing case. Tower also entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in a settlement with DOJ, crediting their monetary settlement with the CFTC and imposing compliance obligations. CFTC; DOJ

October 28, 2019

Precious metals traders Omega Knight 2, LLC and Aviv Hen have been ordered to pay more than $15 million for engaging in fraudulent and illegal transactions and failing to register as a futures commission merchant with the CFTC.  Despite not being authorized to accept customer funds, Omega Knight allegedly made false statements to potential customers in order to obtain some $5.5 million from at least 90 customers, much of which was misappropriated to pay company bills, personal expenses, and prior customers.  A third defendant, Erez Hen, has been ordered to pay $350,000CFTC

October 15, 2019

Fabio Bretas de Freitas and Phy Capital Investments LLC have been ordered to pay over $17 million for their roles in $7 million Ponzi-like scheme.  To carry out the scheme, Bretas and Phy falsely represented that they had developed propriety software capable of netting a 49% profit on futures trading.  In addition to the monetary penalty, Bretas awaits sentencing in a related case out of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York; Bretas and Phy are also permanently banned from trading in CFTC-regulated markets.  CFTC

October 2, 2019

Brokerage firms BGC Financial LP and GFI Securities LLC will pay $15 million and $10 million, respectively, to the CFTC, and $7.5 million and $5 million, respectively, in penalties under New York's Martin Act based on the admitted practices of their brokers in posting sham bids and offers on foreign exchange options in emerging markets currencies referred to as EFX options.  This so-called "flying" of prices was done to create a false appearance of greater liquidity in the EFX options market. In addition, the brokers engaged in the "printing" of fake trades on EFX options, falsely representing that trades had occurred at particular levels and prices in an effort to induce follow-on trades at the same levels.  In addition to the monetary penalties, the brokerage firms have agreed to additional compliance, monitoring, and oversight.  CFTCNY

October 1, 2019

Six financial institutions, each registered or provisionally-registered swap dealers, have been ordered to pay penalties to the CFTC for their failure properly report swap data to a swap data repository as required, and/or for their failure to adequately supervise in connection with swap data reporting.  HSBC Bank USA, N.A. will pay a $650,000 fine;  Société Générale International Limited will pay a $2.5 million fine; The Northern Trust Company will pay a $1 million fine; NatWest Markets Plc will pay  $850,000; The Bank of New York Mellon will pay $750,000, and PNC Bank, National Association will pay $300,000CFTC

October 1, 2019

RBC Capital Markets, LLC, a registered futures commission merchant and subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada, will pay $5 million to resolve charges by the CFTC that RBC engaged in improper, fictitious, exchange for physical wash transactions (Wash EFPs), despite an earlier consent order between RBC and the CFTC regarding wash sales and fictitious transactions.  In the present action, the CFTC also found that RBC failed to meet its supervisory obligations, resulting in its failure to detect at least 385 Wash EFPs.  CFTC

October 1, 2019

Matthew D. Webb of Houston, Texas, and his employer, broker Classic Energy LLC, will pay over $1.5 million to resolve charges that Webb used material, nonpublic information from Classic customers to make trades in Webb's proprietary trading account.  In addition, Webb failed to disclose to Classic customers that he was acting not only as a broker, but also as a trading counterparty.  Classic Energy was also found to have multiple supervision and recordkeeping failures.  CFTC
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