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Market Manipulation and Trading Violations

This archive displays posts tagged as relevant to market manipulation and trading violations, including front running, spoofing, straw purchases, naked short selling, and pump-and-dump schemes. You may also be interested in the following pages:

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DOJ Charges Healthcare CEO with Criminal Securities and Healthcare Fraud

Posted  06/12/20
Hands in handcuffs behind back of white man in business suit
In 2008, Rahm Emanuel, then-President Obama’s chief of staff, famously said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.  I mean, it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”  However poorly phrased, generations of political and business leaders have understood the kernel of truth in his admonition. So have scammers and rip-off artists. We have been following the...

Top Ten SEC and CFTC Recoveries of 2019

Posted  01/24/20
Silver Whistle Hanging
2019 was another busy year for the SEC and CFTC.  Once again, the SEC netted hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties and fines from companies and individuals accused of defrauding investors, breaching fiduciary duties, and violating the securities laws.  And that’s in addition to the SEC’s robust FCPA enforcement in 2019.  Meanwhile, the CFTC continued to root out market manipulators and other fraudsters...

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 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 2, 2019

Brokerage firm Lek Securities Corp. and its CEO Sam Lek will pay almost $2 million to resolve allegations that they facilitated the manipulative trading scheme of Ukraine-based customer Avalon FA, Ltd.  Lek provided Avalon with the means to engage in "layering" and other cross-market manipulation.  Layering involves placing and canceling orders to signal inaccurate prices.  Avalon also engaged in other practices to buy and sell stocks to artificially impact options prices.  Lek Securities will pay a $1 million penalty plus $526,000 in disgorgement and interest; Sam Lek will pay a $420,000 penalty.  Defendants have admitted the facts alleged and Lek Securities has agreed to retain an independent compliance monitor.  SEC

October 1, 2019

Three firms will pay a total of $3 million to resolve claims that each violated the Commodity Exchange Act's prohibition on spoofing.  Morgan Stanley Capital Group Inc. will pay $1.5 million for engaging in spoofing the precious metals futures markets; Belvedere Trading LLC will pay $1.1 million for engaging in spoofing in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange E-mini S&P 500 futures market; and, Mitsubishi International Corporation will pay $400,000 for acts of spoofing silver and gold futures on the Commodity Exchange, Inc. markets.  CFTC

September 30, 2019

Hard Eight Futures, LLC and its principal Igor Chernomzav have been ordered to pay $2.5 million in civil monetary penalties based on findings that the defendants placed bids and offers for E-mini futures contracts with the intent to cancel those orders before execution.  When placed and prior to cancellation, the bids and offers constituted a substantial percentage of the best bid or offer, creating a false impression of buying and selling interest.  CFTC

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
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