Chicago Mercantile Exchange Defies FBI: Flash Crash Not Caused by Futures

After U.S. authorities alleged that a single S&P 500 Futures trader caused the 2010 flash crash, CME says Navinder Sarao

After U.S. authorities demanded the extradition of  British trader, Navinder Singh Sarao, under the allegation he single-handedly manipulated one of the world’s most liquid markets, the CME Group today offered a contradicting response to the case.

According to the affidavit of the FBI agent leading the investigation, the contract traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) was a core asset which Sarao used. For the five years since April 2010, using a practice called ‘spoofing’ the trader engaged in manipulation of the prices of the S&P 500 Futures market.

The CME Group released the following statement: “Nothing is more important to CME Group than the integrity of our marketplace. Following the Flash Crash on May 6, 2010, together with other regulators, we did a thorough analysis of all activity in our markets during the Flash Crash, and concluded – along with regulators – that the Flash Crash was not caused by the futures market.”

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“If new information has come to light, we look forward to reviewing it with the Commission. We fully support the CFTC’s actions to prosecute those who attempt to engage in fraud or manipulation. We are prohibited by law from releasing information about any individual’s trading behavior, including Mr. Sarao’s, so we are unable to comment further at this time.”

Meanwhile in the UK, Sarao was set to be released on bail tomorrow by a London court, after he vowed to resist extradition to the U.S. for a trial. His bail was set at £5 million and his close family members must also post £50,000.

Sarao’s bail conditions include wearing an electronic tag, a night-time curfew at his home in west London, carrying a mobile phone at all times, having no access to the Internet and reporting to a police station three times a week. Additionally, his passport and those of his parents were taken away by police, and Sarao is not allowed to leave England for any purpose.

“I suspect the last 24 hours have been somewhat dramatic for you,” District Judge Quentin Purdy told Sarao at the end of the hearing. “But you now know the U.S. seeks your extradition on very serious charges.”

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