Chicago Trading Lawsuits Begin

Chicago, the historical center of futures markets, is becoming the center of criminal and civil litigation in high-speed trading.

The combination of brand-new laws outlawing disruptive trading practices and a U.S. Lawyer's Office in Chicago excited to crack down on crooks is swelling the variety of cases in court here. Numerous revolve around "spoofing," an illegal practice where traders benefit from placing orders they plan to cancel, frequently just milliseconds later.

In addition to winning the first criminal conviction of a spoofer this month, in U.S. District Court in Chicago, federal prosecutors here are transferring to attempt a British trader implicated of supporting the 2010 Flash Crash through market adjustment. Meantime, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission(http://www.cftc.gov/index.htm may also be of interest) is pressing civil spoofing charges against a Chicago trading company, and competing companies are fighting one another over charges of rigging the marketplace.

The decision against Panther Energy Trading's Michael Coscia– the jury required simply an hour to find him guilty on Nov. 3 of all 12 counts– offers high-speed traders their clearest signal yet on what they can and can not do under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Cross this line and, at worst, they might faces decades in prison or, at very well, be required to drop lucrative trading practices and strategies.

"It actually is an entirely brand-new frontier for traders in the market," states Stacie Hartman, a Chicago litigator at Schiff Hardin who represents trading firms and other market participants. "This is now a certain concentrate on the digestive tracts of exactly what traders do every microsecond.".

Up until recently, Chicago has played a slim function in the enforcement of trading laws. Rather, these matters typically were dealt with in New York courts, provided the distance to Wall Street's stock trading. However Chicago's function has actually been raised by the flood of electronic trading orders flowing from all over the world through futures exchange controller CME Group's computer system servers.

Chicago trading companies, consisting of Castle, Jump Trading, DRW Holdings and Allston Trading, have actually made the city a hub for high-speed trading. While a number of them outgrew futures floor operations, they now dart in and out of financial markets worldwide using secret methods.

In addition, U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon has actually made policing the industry a concern. He developed a team of a dozen prosecutors in 2014 to focus solely on commodities and securities criminal activities, making use of brand-new tools under Dodd-Frank to thwart disruptive trading practices in the electronic sphere.

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"Fairness and stability in the monetary markets must be safeguarded in the age of high-frequency trading," states Renato Mariotti, the lead federal district attorney in the Coscia trial.

The Coscia case hinged on intent. The high-speed trader acknowledged that he canceled tens of countless orders over a nine-week duration in 2011, but said that he initially had actually prepared to follow through on the trades. To the jury, though, Mariotti proved that the rapid-fire orders and cancellations were market manipulations meant to trick and defraud other traders.

Prosecutors are "now pushed and they have a blueprint," K&L Gates lawyer Cliff Histed informed an audience at the Futures Market Association Expo in Chicago this month.

Histed dealt with the Coscia case in the U.S. Lawyer's Workplace prior to leaving for private practice this year. "We've got a U.S. lawyer who's not afraid to implement this law," he states later in an interview. The new aggressiveness consists of surprise FBI visits to trading firms and the aid of new CFTC and Securities and Exchange Commission whistle blower programs developed by Dodd-Frank, he says.

The CFTC lodged civil charges last month versus Chicago-based 3Red Trading and its owner, Igor Oystacher. In battling the suit, the defendants state the commission is categorizing "genuine trading and danger management as a market infraction.".

"The amount of litigation reflects much less consensus in between the managed and the regulators about the criteria of these guidelines– the scope and repercussion of these policies– since it's a huge step to litigate these cases," says Christian Kemnitz, a lawyer at Katten Muchin Rosenman who is working with trading firm clients.

Trading firms are incriminating each other. Chicago-based Castle also grumbled about Panther's trading, and another Castle staff member testified for the prosecution in Coscia's trial.

High-speed firms are suing each other in Chicago federal court, too. HTG Capital Partners sued "John Doe" over spoofing and is attempting to compel CME to reveal the name of the perpetrator. Kemnitz is representing "John Doe" in the case but will not talk about the matter.

"Companies want to do the best thing," he states. "They believe they can make money under whatever the guidelines are. They just want to know what the guidelines are." Anticipate Chicago courts and prosecutors to help set them straight.

Until just recently, Chicago has played a narrow role in the enforcement of trading laws. Chicago's function has been raised by the flood of electronic trading orders flowing from all over the world through futures exchange operator CME Group's computer system servers.

The new aggressiveness consists of surprise FBI visits to trading companies and the help of new CFTC and Securities and Exchange Commission whistle blower programs produced by Dodd-Frank, he states.

In fighting the claim, the accuseds state the commission is categorizing "genuine trading and danger management as a market offense.".

Trading companies are incriminating each other.

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