The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today settled a spoofing case with South Korea’s Mirae Asset Daewoo, who the agency said its traders made profits by entering spoofing orders in futures traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).
The ex-traders at Daewoo Securities Co. Ltd, a company Mirae acquired after the spoofing issue, on numerous occasions placed orders to buy or sell futures contracts with the intent to cancel those orders before they were executed. The spoofing scheme ran from at least December 2014 through April 2016 and focused on E-mini S&P 500 contracts listed on the CME futures market.
In settling the CFTC case, Daewoo will pay $700,000, although it didn’t admit or deny the agency’s allegations. The CFTC also credited Mirae for its cooperation since learning of the traders’ misconduct, which the regulator says it expedited the resolution of this matter and reduced the monetary penalty.
Spoofing, in general, is a practice in which a trader floods the market with fake orders by entering and quickly canceling large buy or sell orders on an exchange, in order to fool other traders into thinking that the market is poised to rise or fall.
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Regulators stepped up their policing of spoofing
The CFTC described the alleged plot, explaining one strategy that Daewoo’s traders employed and involved three steps. First, the trader placed orders without intending to execute them to try to move prices in their favor.
While there’s nothing wrong with canceling orders, the regulator said the trader capitalized on the increased buying or selling interest that spoof orders created. He placed the genuine order, which he intended to execute, on the opposite side of the market. Third, the spoof orders were canceled within seconds of the genuine order being filled and only after prices moved in the direction the spoofer wants.
As such, Daewoo’s traders falsely represented they had made bids, and while non-existent trades had taken place to create an illusion to encourage other investors to trade against their genuine orders and move the market for their own benefit.
Deutsche Bank, HSBC, and UBS were all hit by spoofing penalties, the largest of which was a $30 million fine for Germany’s biggest bank. The Swiss bank UBS has also found itself facing similar accusations after some of its spot traders used phony trade orders to manipulate precious metals futures traded on the COMEX.