Federal Charges Filed in Price ‘Spoofing’ Inquiry on Wall St.


The market-manipulation investigation has produced some of the first financial criminal charges in the Trump administration, which has vowed to make life easier for big companies while also enforcing the law.

The penalties are smaller than those in previous market-manipulation cases brought by American and European authorities. UBS, for example, agreed to pay $1.5 billion in 2012 to settle claims it manipulated a widely used benchmark interest rate.

Spokesmen for the three banks said the banks had cooperated with the investigation and were happy that the matter was resolved.

As part of the latest investigation, prosecutors charged individual traders with trying to manipulate markets. The authorities in the United States and abroad arrested five people on Monday who they said had tried to manipulate metals and other futures markets by posting fake prices, a practice called “spoofing.”

Some had worked at major banks, but one man, Jitesh Thakkar, ran his own trading firm in Chicago. Authorities say he wrote a computer program that helped other traders create fake prices in the markets for bets on the movements of major stock indexes like the Dow Jones industrial average.

Mr. Thakkar was arrested in Chicago and could not be reached for comment.

In all, eight people who worked at various banks and trading firms are facing criminal charges as part of the spoofing investigation. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed parallel civil actions against six of them.

One, Andre Flotron, a former UBS trader from Switzerland, was arrested in September after entering the United States to visit his girlfriend. The commission filed a separate civil action against him on Friday.

Mr. Flotron’s lawyer Marc Mukasey said in an email Monday, “This new C.F.T.C. complaint is an enormous waste of taxpayers’ money because the C.F.T.C. knows darn well that there is a pending criminal matter, that Mr. Flotron has long been retired from the business, and that he lives in Switzerland.”

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