The CME issued a disciplinary notice to an energy firm for failing to submit block trades with accurate execution times. There are very specific - and short - times for filing block trade reports regardless of whether they are principal to principal or brokered. In this case, the exchange indicated the failure was "multiple block trades in Crude Oil futures to the Exchange with inaccurate execution times. Additionally, the Panel also found that Syntex failed to properly advise and train its employees as to relevant Exchange rules and Market Regulation Advisory Notices (“MRANs”) in a manner sufficient to ensure compliance with Exchange block trade reporting requirements." The fine was $40K. The notice is here.
So we, have two issues - improper reports and failure to supervise. This can be solved in one of two ways:
First, many firms, including some of the largest global energy firms, have adopted a policy of only executing block trades via a broker. When executed through a broker, the block trade reporting obligation falls to the broker - removing the issue for the company. Please remember that the trader entering the order with the broker must designate it is to be executed via a block trade - either by a global instruction that any trade of block size must be executed as a block or by specific instruction that the individual trade must be executed via a block.
Second, companies do perform training - at least annually - for staff who are authorized to perform block trades on a principal to principal basis. DCM has created and performed training of this type for clients. The major points covered are the requirements for a block trade, the mechanics of a block trade, the timing requirements by product, and the exchange portal for block trade filings. Both ICE and CME have electronic portals for filings and the form is standardized.
There really is no reason to have this type of notice and fine if you follow one of these two paths.
Breathtaking example of why reading your exchange brokerage statements is important - fine was really big
The CME issued a disciplinary notice today for a $1.25 Million fine for an individual. The individual was a broker at a firm who entered trades for customer accounts without a power of attorney. As the notice indicates, the customers may have made verbal authorizations for small orders but the individual blew through the risk limits and, in some cases, the financial capabilities of the customers. The total losses exceeded $10 Million, which the brokerage firm repaid (but imagine the mess of sorting that out with your brokerage firm). If any of those customers was confirming their trading on a daily basis, this would not have happened. This is the epitome of the classic "buy and forget" trading strategy - that is how many entities implement "buy and hold".
The trader was fined $1.25 million and barred for life from the exchange or from entering orders on behalf of a customer. The notice is here .
This happens - believe me. DCM staff have been in a situation where a client entered trades after discussions with DCM but did not check their broker statement. DCM was in transit overseas that day and the next. When the statement came in, the order had been doubled. Neither the client or the IB (or so they said) had tapes. The client believed the IB and billed DCM for the loss. We paid rather than go through the costs.
The simple fact is every account should be verified EVERY day before the next day opening of the market. Larger firms should confirm trades in near real time - just because you think that what you asked for is going on doesn't mean it is. Every phone order should be read back in confirmation of the trade. If your traders are not requiring read backs of fills on phone orders - make them. Any phoned in order that is not read back by the broker should be subject to cancellation. Simple risk measures can avoid a major amount of pain.
Two different "disruptive trading" cases had disciplinary notices issued today - the notices are here and here. The notices speak to large layered orders on one side of the market with resulting trades from smaller resting orders on the other side of the market and subsequent cancellation of the layered orders. The fines was $45K in one case and $65K with a $41K+ disgorgement in the other. This is a scenario we have covered on this blog a number of times before.
What DCM wants to reflect on this time is the length of time these cases may have consumed. In one case, the trades were done in November 2017; in the other, January, 2018. The settlement hearing in both cases was August 2019. Even if it took the exchange 6 months to start the investigation that is still over 12 months for this process. That is twelve months of internal, and probably external, legal effort with its associated cost. Twelve months of disruption on the desk with the need for traders to respond to questions. Twelve month of staff going through order level data recreation and analysis.
This process costs soft dollars and likely large quantity hard dollars for outside counsel, It reduces the efficiency of your trading operations.
That is the real impact of trading oversight failures - the long, steady impact on your business. Consider that when you are considering the review of your compliance program.
CME Market Advisory on Block Trading - some changes in Block Trade rules are coming October 1 that have significant impacts
The CME issued an extensive market advisory here that covers the CME/CBOT/NYMEX/COMEX markets. The advisory is 13 pages and the cover note does hit the highlights. Just to make it clear - this is a change to a prior advisory in May and includes all the information in that notice PLUS several new items. These are:
1. If a CME product is block traded in a strategy with a non-CME product (e..g, I trade a block on CME WTI and a block on ICE Brent as a paired set of blocks), the CME leg of the block will be considered as an "outright" on the CME leg and the "fair and reasonable" pricing test for the block will only consider the CME product price. So if the spread would create a CME price that is outside the fair and reasonable range, the block is improper.
2. Pre-hedging advisory content is changed significantly. The points DCM feels are major are:
The ICE getting more active in disruptive trading disciplinary notices - equities market latest area
. Today the Intercontinental Exchange issued a disciplinary notice in the equities markets (Russell 2000). They specifically noted the individual was a "manual trader" The issue was on "multiple instances", the trader acted in "a pattern of placing and layering multiple orders on one side of the orderbook while placing a single order on the opposite side".
Also in keeping with the increased use of disruptive trading - as opposed to "spoofing" - as the offense, the exchange noted multiple impacts from the actions were to "create false depth, put pressure on the market, and mislead market participants into trading against, or moving the market closer to, his opposing single order.".
DCM still sees firms believing spoofing or failure to enter orders with an intent to deliver is only of concern regarding automated trading - either true hugh frequency trading or even OMS based trading processes. The facts would indicate that the majority of case, though smaller fines, are for manual trading activity - and frequently in the pre-open.
The full order is here. The fine was $40K and there was a 1 month suspension from the all ICE US Futures markets.
The CFTC issues a press release here discussing the consent order executed on August 9 and 12 by the parties. The order is an injunction upon Kraft to prohibit Kraft from any violation of Sections 6(c)(1) (unlawful to use any swap or contract for sale for deceptive purposes), Section 6(c)(3) and 9(a)(2) (unlawful to attempt to manipulate the price of any swap, commodity in interstate commerce, or any commodity for future delivery), Section 4a(b) or 4a(e) (unlawful to hold long or short position in violation of position limits) or Section 4c(a) (unlawful to confirm an execution that is a wash sale) of the Commodity Exchange Act.
The CFTC had alleged that Kraft took positions in the physical market and then took swap positions based on their knowledge that they would reverse the physical positions in a manner that would cause the swaps to experience gains well in excess of any losses from the reversing physical transactions. Kraft had expressed the defense that the positions and activities were undertaken in their normal course of business as a commodity consumer. This consent order closes the proceedings.
The fine was $16 million dollars. The Court Consent Order is available below.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVSION
U.S. COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION,
KRAFT FOODS GROUP, INC. and MONDELEZ GLOBAL LLC,
Case No. 15 CV 2881
Hon. John Robert Blakey
On April 1, 2015, Plaintiff Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the "Commission"
or "CFTC") filed a Complaint for Injunctive Relief, Civil Monetary Penalties, and Other
Equitable Relief  against Defendants Kraft Foods Group, Inc. and Mondelez Global LLC
( collectively, "Defendants") alleging that Defendants used or attempted to use a manipulative or
deceptive device in connection with the December 2011 wheat futures contract traded on the
Chicago Board of Trade (Count I), manipulated or attempted to manipulate the price of the
December 2011 wheat futures contract and of cash wheat (Count II), unlawfully held December
2011 wheat futures positions in excess of speculative position limits (Count Ill), and engaged in
wash sales or fictitious sales by trading both sides of EFP contracts (Count IV) in violation of
Sections 4a(b), 4a(e), 4c(a), 6(c)(l), 6(c)(3), and 9(a)(2) of the Commodity Exchange Act
("CEA"), 7 U.S.C. §§ 6a(b), 6a(e), 6c(a), 9(1), 9(3), 13(a)(2) (2012), and Commission
Regulations ("Regulations") 1.38, 150.2, 180.1, and 180.2, 17 C.F.R. §§ 1.38, 150.2, 180.1,
Case: 1:15-cv-02881 Document #: 310 Filed: 08/14/19 Page 2 of 9 PageID #:23993
Defendants filed their Answer onJanuary 15, 2016, and have denied that they (1) used
or attempted to use a manipulative or deceptive device in connection with the December 2011
wheat futures contract traded on the Chicago Board ofTrade as alleged by the CFTC in Count I of
the Complaint; (2) manipulated or attempted to manipulate the price of the December 2011 wheat
futures contract and of cash wheat as alleged by the CFTC in Count II of the Complaint; (3)
unlawfully held December 2011 wheat futures positions in excess ofspeculative position limits as
alleged by the CFTC in Count III of the Complaint; and ( 4) engaged in wash sales or fictitious
sales by trading both sides of EFP contracts as alleged by the CFTC in Count IV of the
Complaint. Defendants denied any violation of Sections 4a(b), 4a(e), 4c(a), 6(c)(l), 6(c)(3), and
9(a)(2) of the CEA, 7 U.S.C. §§ 6a(b), 6a(e), 6c(a), 9(1), 9(3), 13(a)(2) (2012), and Regulations
1.38, 150.2, 180.1, and 180.2, 17 C.F.R. §§ 1.38, 150.2, 180.1, 180.2 (2014 ).
The CFTC and Defendants have reached a resolution and are settling this action in
accordance with the terms arising from the Court's settlement conference on March 22, 2019 and
as set forth below.
I. CONSENTS AND AGREEMENTS
To effect settlement of the matters alleged in the Complaint without a trial on the merits or
any further judicial proceedings:
1. The CFTC and Defendants consent to the entry of this Consent Order and agree to
be bound by its terms;
2. The Court has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of this action
pursuant to Section 6c of the Act, 7 U.S.C. § 13a-l (2012);
3. The CFTC has jurisdiction over the conduct and transactions at issue in this action
pursuant to the Act, 7U.S.C. §§ 1-26(2012);
4. Venue properly lies with this Court pursuant to Section 6c(e) of the Act, 7 U.S.C.
Case: 1:15-cv-02881 Document #: 310 Filed: 08/14/19 Page 3 of 9 PageID #:23993
§ 13a-l( e )(2012);
5. The CFTC and Defendants waive any and all rights of appeal from this action;
6. The CFTC and Defendants consent to the continued jurisdiction of this Court over
them for the purpose of implementing and enforcing the terms of this Consent Order;
7. The CFTC and Defendants do not consent to the use of this Consent Order by any
patiy in any other proceeding;
8. Neither paiiy shall make any public statement about this case other than to refer to
the terms of this settlement agreement or public documents filed in this case, except any patiy
may take any lawful position in any legal proceedings, testimony or by court order.
Nothing in this Order reflects an agreement or a legal determination that Defendants have
or have not violated any provision of the CEA. Defendants agree to, and the Comi hereby
orders, the entry of an injunction prohibiting the Defendants from in the future violating any of the
(a) Section 6(c)(l) of the CEA, 7 U.S.C. § 9(1) (2012), and Regulation 180.1, 17 C.F.R. § 180.1 (2018), which makes it unlawful for any person to use or employ or attempt to use or employ, in connection with any swap, or a contract of sale of any commodity in interstate commerce, or for future delivery on or subject to the rules of any registered entity, any manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance;
(b) Sections 6(c)(3) and 9(a)(2) of the CEA, 7 U.S.C. §§ 9(3), 13(a)(2) (2012), and Regulation 180.2, 17 C.F.R. § 180.2 (2018), which make it unlawful for any person to manipulate or attempt to manipulate the price of any swap, or of any commodity in interstate commerce, or for future delivery on or subject to the rules of any registered entity;
(c) Sections 4a(b) and 4a(e) of the CEA, 7 U.S.C. §§ 6a(b), 6a(e)(2012), and Regulation 150.2, 17 C.F.R. § 150.2 (2018), which make it unlawful to hold or control a net long or short position in any commodity for future delivery on or subject to the rules of any contract market in excess of any position limit fixed by the Commission for or with respect to such commodity, or violate a rule of a contract market or board of trade
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fixing limits on the amount of trading which may be done or positions which may be held by any person if such rule was approved by the CFTC; and
(d) Section 4c(a)ofthe CEA, 7 U.S.C. § 6c(a)(2012), and Regulation 1.38, 17 C.F.R. § 1.38 (2018), which makes it unlawful to offer to enter into, enter into or confirm the execution of a transaction involving the purchase or sale of any commodity for future delivery that is, is of the character of, or is commonly known to the trade as a 'wash sale,' that is a fictitious sale, or that is used to cause any price to be reported, registered, or recorded that is not a true and bona fide price, or that is executed noncompetitively but not in accordance with the written rules of the contract market which have been submitted to and approved by the Commission.
III. CIVIL MONETARY PENALTY
Defendants agree to pay, and the Court orders, a monetary penalty according to the terms
set fmih below:
1. Defendant Mondelez Global shall pay a civil monetary penalty in the amount of
SIXTEEN MILLION DOLLARS ($16,000,000) ("CMP Obligation") within ninety (90) days of
the date of entry of this Consent Order. Defendants are jointly and severally liable for the CMP
Obligation. If the CMP Obligation is not paid in full within ninety days of the date of entry of this
Consent Order, then post-judgment interest shall accrue on the CMP Obligation beginning on the
date of entry of this Consent Order and shall be determined by using the Treasury Bill rate
prevailing on the date of entry of this Consent Order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1961 (2012).
2. Defendant Mondelez Global shall pay the CMP Obligation and any post-judgment
interest by electronic funds transfer, U.S. postal money order, cetiified check, bank cashier's
check, or bank money order. If payment is to be made other than by electronic funds transfer,
then the payment shall be made payable to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and
sent to the address below:
MMAC/ESC/ AMK326 Commodity Futures Trading Commission Division of Enforcement 6500 S. MacAtihur Blvd.
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HQ Room 181 Oklahoma City, OK 73169 ( 405) 954-6569 office (405) 954-1620 fax 9-AMC-AR-CFTC@faa.gov
If payment by electronic funds transfer is chosen, Defendants shall contact Marie Thome or her
successor at the address above to receive payment instructions and shall fully comply with those
instructions. Defendants shall accompany payment of the CMP Obligation with a cover letter that
identifies Defendants and the name and docket number of this proceeding. Defendants shall
simultaneously transmit copies of the cover letter and the form of payment to the Chief Financial
Officer, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Tlu-ee Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street,
NW, Washington, D.C. 20581.
3. Partial Satisfaction: Acceptance by the CFTC of any partial payment of
Defendants' CMP Obligation shall not be deemed a waiver of their obligation to make further
payments pursuant to this Consent Order, or a waiver of the CFTC's right to seek to compel
payment of any remaining balance.
IV. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
4. Notice: All notices required to be given by any provision in this Consent Order
shall be sent certified mail, return receipt requested, with reference to the name and docket
number of this action, asfollows:
Notice to the CFTC:
Scott Williamson, Acting Deputy Director U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Division of Enforcement 525 W. Monroe St., Suite 1100 Chicago, IL 60661
Notice to Defendants:
Kraft Foods Group, Inc. and Mondelez Global LLC
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C/O Jenner & Block LLP Attn: Dean N. Panos and J. Kevin McCall 353 N. Clark Street Chicago, IL 60654-3456
5. Change of Address/Phone: Until such time as Defendants satisfy in full their
CMP Obligation as set forth in this Consent Order, Defendants shall provide written notice to the
CFTC by certified mail of any change to their telephone number or mailing address within ten
calendar days of the change
6. Entire Agreement and Amendments: This Consent Order incorporates all of the
te1ms and conditions of the settlement among the pmties hereto to date. Nothing shall serve to
amend or modify this Consent Order in any respect whatsoever, unless: (a) reduced to writing; (b)
signed by all pmties hereto; and (c) approved by order of this Court.
7. Invalidation: If any provision of this Consent Order or if the application of any
provision or circumstance is held invalid, then the remainder of this Consent Order and the
application of the provision to any other person or circumstance shall not be affected by the
8. Waiver: The failure of any pmty to this Consent Order at any time to require
performance of any provision of this Consent Order shall in no manner affect the right of the
pmty at a later time to enforce the same or any other provision of this Consent Order. No waiver in
one or more instances of the breach of any provision contained in this Consent Order shall be
deemed to be or construed as a fmther or continuing waiver of such breach or waiver of the
breach of any other provision of this Consent Order.
9. Continuing Jurisdiction of this Comt: Upon entry by the Court of this Consent
Order all of the claims asserted by the CFTC in the Complaint are dismissed with prejudice.
However, this Court shall retain jurisdiction of this action to ensure compliance with this Consent
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I 0. Injunctive Provisions: The injunctive provisions of this Consent Order shall be
binding upon Defendants, upon any person under their authority or control, and upon any person
who receives actual notice of this Consent Order insofar as he or she is acting in active conce1i or
participation with Defendants.
11. Authority: Undersigned Counsel for Defendants hereby warrants that he is the
attorney for Defendants Kraft Foods Group, Inc. and Mondelez Global LLC, and that this
Consent Order has been duly authorized by Defendants Kraft Foods Group, Inc. and Mondelez
Global LLC, and that he has been duly empowered to sign and submit this Consent Order on
behalf of Defendants Kraft Foods Group, Inc.and Mondelez Global LLC.
12. Counterpa1is and Execution: This Consent Order may be executed in two or more
counterparts, all of which shall be considered one and the same agreement and shall become
effective when one or more counterpmis have been signed by each of the pmiies hereto and
delivered (by hand delivery or certified mail) to the other pmiy, it being understood that all
parties need not sign the same counterpmi. Any counterpart or other signature to this Consent
Order that is delivered by any means shall be deemed for all purposes as constituting good and
valid execution and delivery by such party of this Consent Order.
There being no just reason for delay, the Clerk of the Couti is hereby directed to enter
this Consent Order.
IT IS SO ORDERED on this 14th day of August, 2019.
The ICE fines trader for "disruptive trading" in the pre-open - a term that is broader than "spoofing"
While there have been multiple disciplinary notices from the CME regarding entering orders without intent in the pre-open, a disciplinary notice from ICE US Futures is the first from that entity that DCM has noted regarding per-open orders entered without intent to trade but rather for market intelligence.
The ICE notice references two factors: "the intent to determine market depth and the effect these orders would have on the Indicative Opening Price (“IOP”)." This has been a common theme for these types of disciplinary actions - using orders as an information gathering tool, not for execution. It should be noted that the recent CME and ICE notices reference "disrptuive trading" which is the name of the general rule that covers entering orders without intent to execute, even if they are not intended to move the market to enable a trade in the opposite direction. Companies should be using this term regardless of whether they also use "spoofing" as a term in their training.
It feels like a broken record repeating this but I have had multiple conversations with different regulators and they all have a common view of US futures markets - that these are markets for execution, not negotiation. If you wish to utilize the futures markets for anything other than execution, your actions are improper. to the regulators, just the act of entering these orders causes other participants to misunderstand the liquidity of the market and, therefore, that order is disruptive.
You are allowed to change your mind based on information received after the order is placed but you to have intent to execute when the order is entered.
The fine was $50K and a ten day suspension from accessing the market. notice is case no. 2017-023 from ICE US Futures issued August 14, 2019. I do not have a link to the notice at this time.
The ICE bars a trader, no fine, for entering orders without intent to trade ("spoofing") - second spoofing case in two months
The Intercontinental Exchange issued another spoofing disciplinary action earlier this month - this time in the coffee, sugar, and cocoa markets. I thought this was rather clever on their part in the notice:
"a manual trader, engaged in a pattern of placing one or more fully visible large order(s) on one side of the market while having a smaller order (typically an ICEberg order) resting on the opposite side of the market"
Not seen the capitalization that way before.
Two important things here:
First, again, the exchange stressed it was a manual trader - I can't say how many times a client has told me they don't have to worry because they don't have trading algorithms. The exchange doesn't care how you enter your orders, they care how you manage them.
Second, there was no fine but there was a permanent suspension from the exchange. This might indicate that the trading activity wasn't all that profitable (no disgorgement) but still got the trader a lifetime suspension.
The full order is here
Using MNPI - Material Non-Public Information - can be a violation of exchange rules - here is one way how
The CBOT just fined a firm $350K and imposed a $9,715 disgorgement - that is right they made $9,715 on the trade and got fined $350K. The fine was the old familiar "failure to supervise" because it " failed to diligently supervise its traders in the conduct of their business relating to the Exchange by failing to give sufficient guidance and adequately train its employees on how to comply with its riskless principal mandate without pre-hedging block trades."
The facts are that the firm was invited multiple times to participate in a block trade with a customer. The company had a "riskless mandate in effect." The concept of a riskless principal on a block trade - i.e., consummating a block trade with the customer while having a market transaction that offsets the customer trade - is that banks even include in their block trading and best execution policy manuals (see the Credit Suisse Client Order Execution policy here also can be searched for online). The requirement however is that the hedge trade cannot be consummated before the client block trade is.
And that was the problem here. Traders at an affiliate of the broker consummated the offsetting trade before the customer trade - in essence, front running the customer block order. The CBOE found this happened multiple times.
You can do a block and you can do the offset - you just can't front run a customer block order. And that is how use of material non-public information can get a large fine from the CME.
The full order is here
The CME also issued a similar disciplinary notice for an individual trader today. This does not appear to be the trader related to the order for a firm above as the dates for activity cited do not coincide and the firm violations was on CBOT and this violation was on NYMEX. This interesting point is that the stated violations are the same for roughly equivalent periods of time but the trader fine was $19K and a five day suspension of trading privileges. The full order is here
This is in line with DCM advice to clients that the "failure to supervise" fines frequently are more severe than the fine to the individual trader. This should always be a point of focus for any firm's compliance program.
One of the more interesting problems to show up on the radar in the last six months has been an increasing number of inbound questions regarding Dodd Frank compliance questions. Quite bluntly, this had become the Sargasso Sea of consulting expertise - a lot of old flotsam and jetsam (I just love old maritime law terms) waiting for someone to come by and claim it. And it appears that day has come.
The interest seems to be arising from two areas - first, the renewable power space is moving away from bank inter mediated trades to direct developer to consumer (especially large corporate) trades. These trades are increasingly not Power Purchase Agreements ("PPAs") which are considered physical and non-reportable under Dodd Frank towards Virtual Power Purchase Agreements ("VPPAs") which are reportable. That brings a whole new range of participants into the reporting world. I see a number of firms recommending hiring a third party reporting entity - DCM's advice is that this may be overkill and and unnecessary expense.
The second area is non-US entities becoming more involved in the US swap market. The reduction in liquidity for OTC swaps has created a business opportunity for firms that feel they have the capital and knowledge to capture customer business that may require reportable components to the transaction. In many cases, they come from jurisdictions where the equivalent of the swap dealer de minimis calculation have significantly different inclusion of financial products. The greatest challenge appears to be translating what is required and how industry standard practices apply to these companies in the US environment. Some companies have found they can adopt existing non-US compliance processes with a reduction in process complexity rather than building new processes from scratch.
So, from the ashes of the USA compliance consulting environment, Dodd Frank may arise anew for the commodity market. We are not sure this is necessarily the ascent of a great new world but it does mean there may be changes in the offing for financial products the US commodity markets.