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Fraud in CFTC-Regulated Markets

This archive displays posts tagged as relevant to fraud in markets regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the CFTC, or governed by the Commodity Exchange Act, the CEA. You may also be interested in the following pages:

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

Posted  05/11/21
Screenshot of CFTC Whistleblower Program web page
This week, 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 of approximately $100 million, 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...

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...

April 8, 2021

Circle Society, Corp. and its owner, David Gilbert Saffron, have been ordered to pay more than $32 million in restitution, disgorgement, and civil monetary penalty for cryptocurrency fraud and misappropriation.  First as an individual, and then through Circle Society, Saffron allegedly solicited millions in Bitcoin and U.S. dollars from at least 179 individuals by making false statements regarding his trading expertise and guaranteed rates of return.  However, rather than trading the fu­nds on foreign currencies and cryptocurrency pairs, Saffron directed­­ portions to his personal cryptocurrency wallet and used other portions to pay prior investors.  CFTC

April 8, 2021

Posted  04/8/21
A man in New Mexico has been ordered to pay over $10.3 million in monetary sanctions and relief after he admitted to running a Ponzi scheme that spanned nearly twenty years.  Instead of investing client funds in U.S. Treasury Bond futures, Douglas Lien misappropriated over $14.2 million from 45 clients, while charging them over $3.5 million in so-called management fees.  Lien has now been permanently banned from...

CFTC Clobbers Cryptocurrency Con Man

Posted  04/1/21
By Leah Judge
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...

March 26, 2021

British citizen Benjamin Reynolds, who did business as Control-Finance Limited, has been ordered to pay a total of $571 million – $143 million in restitution and $429 million as a civil penalty – by default judgment in an enforcement action brought by the CFTC.  Reynolds solicited customers on the internet and by e-mail, falsely representing that Control-Finance would engage in virtual currency trades on their behalf, with a guaranteed profit.  Reynolds also created an affiliate marketing network, falsely claiming that he would pay referral bonuses to customers.  In fact, Reynolds made no trades on customers’ behalf, earned no trading profits for them, and paid no referral rewards or bonuses. Over the course of six months in 2017, Reynolds secured at least 22,191 bitcoin, worth $143 million at the time, from more than 1,000 customers worldwide, including at least 169 residing in the U.S.  CFTC

March 19, 2021

The CFTC has ordered digital asset exchange operator Coinbase Inc. to pay a civil monetary penalty of $6.5 million to settle charges of reporting false, misleading, or inaccurate information on the company’s GDAX electronic trading platform, which is published by various reporting firms and used by market participants to gauge the volume and liquidity of digital assets.  The CFTC also found Coinbase vicariously liable for a former employee who placed deceptive orders in Litecoin in order to artificially generate market interest.  CFTC

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...

January 8, 2021

Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to pay over $130 million to resolve charges that the financial services company violated the FCPA and engaged in a commodities fraud scheme.  The SEC charged that Deutsche Bank made payments to individuals including foreign officials, their relatives, and their associates as third-party intermediaries and consultants to obtain and retain global business, and lacked sufficient internal accounting controls related to the use and payment of such intermediaries, resulting in millions in bribe payments or payments for unknown, undocumented, or unauthorized services that were inaccurately recorded as legitimate business expenses with documentation falsified by Deutsche Bank employees. The agreed payment represents a $79.6 million criminal penalty and $43.3 million in disgorgement in prejudgment interest to the SEC.   Separately, in connection with a spoofing scheme undertaken by Deutsche precious metals traders in New York, Singapore, and London the bank agreed to a total of $7.5 million in criminal penalties, disgorgement, and restitution, the penalty amount of which will be credited against a 2018 $30 million CFTC civil penalty for substantially the same conduct.   SEC; DOJ
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