January 29, 2018

2 CT men face 'spoof' trading charges

Two Connecticut men are among eight people accused of manipulating precious-metal trades at the nation's leading commodities exchanges, cheating unsuspecting investors, federal prosecutors say.

Edward Bases, 55, of New Canaan, and John Pacilio, 53, of Fairfield, were among those charged in multi-count indictments with participating in a commodities-trading scheme, identified as "spoofing,'' the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney's offices in Connecticut and other states, said Monday.

Connecticut prosecutors said Andre Flotron, 53, a Swiss national and former UBS AG trader in Stamford who now resides in New Jersey, was charged with conspiracy to commit spoofing, wire fraud, and commodities fraud. Authorities allege Flotron taught and led another UBS trader how to spoof precious-metal orders.

Prosecutors did not specify how much investors and others lost from the spoofing schemes.

Spoofing is an illegal practice in which individuals, working alone or together, execute fictitious commodities trades aimed at falsely driving prices up or down, authorities said. Traders and investors profit one way by timing "buy'' or "sell'' orders, based on their calculation of what the marketplace will pay for those commodities at a specific point in time.

According to investigators, seven of the eight were charged with spoofing. Of those identified Monday, five were traders employed by global financial institutions; two were traders at large commodities trading firms; and one was the owner of a technology consulting firm.

The enforcement actions were announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department's criminal division, Deputy Assistant Director Chris Hacker of the FBI's criminal investigative division and Director James McDonald of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission's (CFTC) division of enforcement.

The defendants and their co-conspirators, prosecutors allege, manipulated the market for futures contracts traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), and the Commodity Exchange Inc. (COMEX).

They are alleged to have defrauded market participants and manipulated these markets by placing hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of orders that they did not intend to trade, or "spoof orders," to create the appearance of substantial false supply and demand and to induce other market participants to trade at prices, quantities, and times that they otherwise would not have traded.

Others charged besides Bases, Pasilio and Flotron with spoofing and/or manipulative conduct include: James Vorley, 37, of the United Kingdom; Cedric Chanu, 39, a French citizen; Jitesh Thakkar, 41, of Naperville, Ill.; Jiongsheng "Jim" Zhao, 30, of Australia; and Krishna Mohan, 33, of New York City.

None of the co-defendants could be immediately reached for comment Monday.

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