The CFTC announced today that it had filed a civil complaint in Washington DC Federal Court against prediction market firm Intrade and its parent company Trade Exchange Network (TEN). Intrade provides the opportunity for users to place bets (or trades, depending on how you to call it) on real world outcomes such as elections, financial indexes, commodity prices, Academy Awards winners, and climate changes. Recently, Intrade was in the spotlight as the bettors on the network had predicted 49 out of 50 states in US’s Presedential Election (only Florida was incorrect). In a 2005 agreement with the CFTC, Intrade agreed to suspend the offering of commodity and currency related products to US customers.
In its complaint, the CFTC is alleging that Intrade and TEN did in fact provide commodity trading to US customers and ignored the 2005 settlement. The CFTC also claimed that Intrade and TEN had filed falsified Annual Certification forms to the CFTC.
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David Meister, the Director of the CFTC’s Division of Enforcement, stated: “It is against the law to solicit U.S. persons to buy and sell commodity options, even if they are called ‘prediction’ contracts, unless they are listed for trading and traded on a CFTC-registered exchange or unless legally exempt. The requirement for on-exchange trading is important for a number of reasons, including that it enables the CFTC to police market activity and protect market integrity. Today’s action should make it clear that we will intervene in the ‘prediction’ markets, wherever they may be based, when their U.S. activities violate the Commodity Exchange Act or the CFTC’s regulations.”
The CFTC concluded its suit stating that it thanked the Bank of Ireland for its help in its investigation against Intrade and TEN and added “In its continuing litigation the CFTC seeks civil monetary penalties, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and permanent injunctions against further violations of federal commodities law, as charged, among other relief.”