In the USA government’s first criminal prosecution of the manipulative trading practice known as “spoofing”, high-frequency trader Michael Coscia was found guilty on Tuesday.
“Prosecutors say the goal was essentially to create the illusion that there was demand in a market”.
“We’re disappointed by the verdict”, said Mr Coscia’s lawyer Steven Peikin of Sullivan and Cromwell. And it netted him $1.4 million in less than three months.
Harjani asked jury members to use their common sense to determine that Coscia did not intend to trade his large orders.
The case is USA v. Coscia, 14-cr-00551, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).
Coscia of Rumson, New Jersey artificially bumped up commodities prices by placing orders that he cancelled within milliseconds. Even though it has been prohibited by authorities & exchanges for a while, it was also explicitly banned as part of the US Dodd-Frank financial reforms in 2010.
Coscia took the stand in his own defence to deny wrongdoing.
The jury in Chicago convicted Coscia on six counts of commodities fraud and six counts of spoofing, all of the charges he had faced, after deliberating for about an hour. He faces a $1 million fine and a maximum sentence of 10 years for each count of spoofing and a $250,000 fine and 25 years for each count of fraud.
Coscia is set to be sentenced next year.
One expert called by defense lawyers said Coscia’s cancellation rate for large orders during a week in September 2011 was lower than that of other high-frequency trading firms and the rate of orders filled was larger.
Coscia tried to trick the jurors “just like he did with the other traders” in the futures markets, Harjani said.
He used the programs while working at Panther Energy Trading LLC, his trading firm, for committing the crimes.
In April, the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission brought criminal and civil spoofing charges against Navinder Sarao, a London-based trader accused of market manipulation that contributed to the May 2010 “flash crash”. Sarao has denied the allegations.