Skip to main content
Menu Icon Menu Icon
Close

InfoBytes Blog

Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Filter

Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.

  • CFTC awards $200 million to whistleblower

    Securities

    On October 21, the CFTC announced an approximately $200 million whistleblower award to a claimant who reported “specific, credible, and timely” information that contributed to an already open investigation, which led to a successful Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) enforcement action, as well as to the success of two related actions by a U.S. federal regulator and a foreign regulator. The associated order notes that the claimant voluntarily provided original information that led the CFTC to important, direct evidence of wrongdoing. According to the announcement, “to qualify for an award, a whistleblower who significantly contributed to the success of an enforcement action must demonstrate that there is a ‘meaningful nexus’ between the information provided and the CFTC’s ability to successfully complete its investigation, and to either obtain a settlement or prevail in a litigated proceeding.” The Commission determined the whistleblower met this standard. However, because the whistleblower’s information was never shared with the state regulator, the claim associated with a third related action by the state regulator was denied. In a statement released by CFTC Commissioner Dawn D. Stump, the Commissioner expressed her disagreement with the Commission’s award to the claimant with respect to the foreign regulator’s action. She concluded that there needs to be “an especially close look at cases where a whistleblower asks the Commission to tap its limited Customer Protection Fund for an award relating to an action by a foreign futures authority to address harm outside the United States.”

    The CFTC has awarded approximately $300 million to whistleblowers since the enactment of its Whistleblower Program under Dodd-Frank, and whistleblower information has led to nearly $3 billion in monetary relief.

    Securities CFTC Whistleblower Dodd-Frank Enforcement Commodity Exchange Act Of Interest to Non-US Persons

    Share page with AddThis
  • CFTC announces a $500,000 fine for swap dealer

    Securities

    On October 14, the CFTC announced a $500,000 settlement with a non-U.S. provisionally registered swap dealer to resolve claims that it failed to comply with certain swap dealer recordkeeping requirements. Among other things, the institution allegedly failed to retain certain audio recordings for the time required under CFTC regulations. In addition to the civil monetary penalty, the institution must cease and desist from further violations of the CFTC regulations and must continue its remediation efforts.

    Securities CFTC Commodity Exchange Act Swaps Enforcement Of Interest to Non-US Persons

    Share page with AddThis
  • CFTC announces more than $2.5 million in fines for swap data reporting violations

    Securities

    On September 29, the CFTC announced a $1.5 million settlement with a non-U.S. provisionally registered swap dealer headquartered in France to resolve claims that it failed to comply with certain swap dealer reporting requirements. Among other things, the swap dealer allegedly failed to meet mid-market mark disclosure requirements for numerous swaps, failed to accurately report certain swap valuation data to a swaps data repository, and did not diligently perform its supervisory obligations related to these disclosures. In addition to the civil monetary penalty, the swap dealer must cease and desist from further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations and must continue its remediation efforts.

    Earlier, on September 27, the CFTC announced a $1 million civil monetary penalty to resolve allegations that a global financial institution violated swap data legal entity identifier (LEI) reporting requirements as well as related supervision responsibilities. According to the CFTC, the alleged failures violated the cease and desist provision of a 2017 CFTC order, in which the CFTC found that the financial institution, among other things, failed to report LEI swap transaction data or establish systems and procedures to do so, did not correct errors in previously reported LEI data, and failed to diligently perform its supervisory duties when reporting LEI swap data. The 2017 order imposed a $550,000 civil monetary penalty and required the financial institution to cease and desist violating CFTC regulations. The CFTC’s September 27 order further found that the financial institution’s alleged continued reporting failures occurred, in part, from a failure to diligently supervise its swap dealer activities with respect to LEI swap data reporting.

    Securities CFTC Enforcement Swaps Of Interest to Non-US Persons Commodity Exchange Act

    Share page with AddThis
  • District Court prevents disposal of cryptocurrency linked to hack

    Courts

    On August 23, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York preliminarily enjoined defendants “from selling, transferring, assigning, encumbering, or otherwise disposing of cryptocurrency transferred in [] transactions” following a July attack on a cryptocurrency exchange network with New York-based operations. According to the cryptocurrency exchange plaintiff’s petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO), the defendants allegedly hacked the network in order to make fraudulent transfers and defraud U.S. users by generating fake bitcoin in violation of the Commodities Exchange Act. The plaintiff contended that the defendants “transferred the cryptocurrency to other exchanges serving New York customers with the intent to sell them,” adding that if the defendants “are permitted to undertake such sales, they will almost certainly transact with New York-based counterparties.” The plaintiff urged the court to issue an injunction, arguing that because the defendants are foreign and it is “impossible to identify hackers intent on fraud, there is almost no likelihood that they would pay a damage award. Short of receiving an injunction of already-identified, fraud-begotten cryptocurrency, there is no way for Petitioner to secure ultimate recovery.” The court’s order also kept in place other third-party exchanges’ existing freezes on accounts thought to hold any of the cryptocurrency at issue. The order is intended to aid the plaintiff in its impending arbitration with the defendants.

    Courts Cryptocurrency Commodity Exchange Act Of Interest to Non-US Persons

    Share page with AddThis
  • CFTC settles AML violations with cryptocurrency derivatives platform

    Securities

    On August 10, the CFTC announced that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a consent order against several companies (defendants) charged with operating an unregistered cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in October 2020, the CFTC announced that it filed a complaint against five entities and three individuals for allegedly owning and operating an unregistered cryptocurrency derivatives platform and failing to implement required anti-money laundering procedures. The complaint alleged that the platform “illegally offer[ed] leveraged retail commodity transactions, futures, options, and swaps” on cryptocurrencies without implementing key safeguards required by the Commodity Exchange Act and several CFTC regulation compliance measures, such as know-your-customer procedures or actions designed to detect and prevent illicit activities. The CFTC also claimed that the exchange operated as an unregistered futures commission merchant and did not have CFTC approval to operate as a designated contract market or swap execution facility. In addition, the defendants are permanently “restrained, enjoined, and prohibited from directly or indirectly offering to enter into retail commodity transactions,” among other things. The order notes that the defendants engaged in remedial measures, such as developing an AML and user verification program. The companies were ordered to pay a $100 million civil monetary penalty, but up to $50 million of the penalty may be offset by payments made by, or amounts credited to, the defendants pursuant to the Assessment of Civil Money Penalty entered by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

    Securities CFTC FinCEN Anti-Money Laundering Enforcement Commodity Exchange Act

    Share page with AddThis
  • Digital asset company to pay $6.5 million to settle CFTC allegations

    Securities

    On March 19, the CFTC announced a $6.5 million settlement with a California-based digital asset company to resolve allegations of false, misleading, or inaccurate reporting concerning its digital asset transactions that violated the Commodity Exchange Act or CFTC regulations. According to the CFTC, from January 2015 to September 2018, the company allegedly operated at least two trading programs that generated orders that, at times, matched each other. The CFTC claimed, among other things, that the transactional information provided on the company’s website and given to reporting services resulted “in a perceived volume and level of liquidity of digital assets. . .that was false, misleading or inaccurate.” Additionally, the CFTC alleged that the company was vicariously liable for a former employee’s use of “a manipulative or deceptive device” to intentionally place buy and sell orders that matched each other, creating a misleading appearance of interest in certain cryptocurrencies. The company did not admit or deny the CFTC’s findings and agreed to pay a $6.5 million civil penalty.

    Securities CFTC Enforcement Virtual Currency Commodity Exchange Act Cryptocurrency

    Share page with AddThis
  • CFTC charges multi-level cryptocurrency marketing scheme

    Securities

    On September 11, the CFTC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against four individuals accused of operating a purported multi-level marketing scheme involving the solicitation of nearly $100,000 in customer funds that were to be used to speculate in cryptocurrency. The CFTC alleged that the defendants violated the Commodity Exchange Act by, among other things, creating the false illusion that their business employed “master traders” with years of cryptocurrency trading experience, that customers’ earnings would increase based on the amount of their deposits, and that customers who made referrals would receive bonuses. Additionally, the defendants posted misleading trade statements online that failed to “accurately reflect the Bitcoin trading purportedly undertaken by [the d]efendants and led certain customers to believe they were earning significant amounts of money from [the d]efendants’ trading of Bitcoin on their behalf.” The CFTC further claimed that when customers tried to unsuccessfully withdraw their funds, the defendants would first claim their website or smartphone app were experiencing technical problems, but then eventually stopped responding to the customer requests. The CFTC seeks to enjoin the defendants’ allegedly unlawful acts and practices, to compel compliance with the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations, and to further enjoin the defendants from engaging in any commodity interest-related activity. In addition, the CFTC seeks civil monetary penalties, restitution, trading and registration bans, and other statutory, injunctive, or equitable relief as the court may deem necessary and appropriate.

    Securities CFTC Enforcement Cryptocurrency Commodity Exchange Act

    Share page with AddThis
  • CFTC awards $9 million to whistleblower

    Securities

    On July 27, the CFTC announced an approximately $9 million whistleblower award to a claimant who reported “specific, credible and timely” information that led to a successful Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) enforcement action. The associated order notes that the claimant voluntarily provided original information leading to the opening of an investigation and the enforcement action, and was under no “legal obligation” to provide the information. The order does not provide any other significant details about the information provided or the related enforcement action. The CFTC has awarded approximately $120 million to whistleblowers since the enactment of its Whistleblower Program under the Dodd-Frank Act, and whistleblower information has led to nearly $950 million in monetary relief.

    Securities CFTC Whistleblower Enforcement Commodity Exchange Act

    Share page with AddThis
  • CFTC charges commodity trading group with fraudulent digital token scheme

    Courts

    On April 16, the CFTC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against a commodity trading adviser and the companies he controlled (collectively, “defendants”) for allegedly soliciting customers and prospective customers to buy now-delisted and worthless digital tokens. The CFTC alleged that the defendants violated the Commodity Exchange Act by making untrue and materially misleading representations about their digital tokens’ function and the performance of a proprietary foreign exchange trading algorithm that the defendants claimed would deliver high rates of return. According to the CFTC, while the defendants knew that none of the customers could lawfully use the algorithm until the defendants’ risk disclosures were approved by the National Futures Association, they still sold the tokens and raised more than $1.6 million based on the premise that the algorithm was ready to be released on the open market. The CFTC claimed, however, that the disclosures were never approved, customers never gained access to the algorithm, and the tokens were eventually delisted by all the digital asset exchanges. The CFTC seeks to enjoin the defendants’ allegedly unlawful acts and practices and to compel compliance with the Commodity Exchange Act and regulations. In addition, the CFTC seeks restitution, civil money penalties, trading and registration bans, and other statutory, injunctive, or equitable relief as deemed necessary and appropriate.

    Courts CFTC Commodity Exchange Act Fraud Fintech

    Share page with AddThis
  • 9th Circuit upholds CFTC fraud enforcement power

    Courts

    On July 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held that the Commodity Future Trading Commission (CFTC) had the enforcement authority to bring a $290 million fraud action against a trading platform, concluding that the district court improperly dismissed the action. According to the opinion, the CFTC brought an action against a trading platform alleging that it was an illegal and unregistered leveraged retail commodity transaction market for precious metals. The platform moved to dismiss the action, arguing that the Dodd-Frank Act did not give the CFTC the power to pursue stand-alone fraud claims without allegations of manipulation and that the Commodity Exchange Act’s “registration provisions do not apply to retail commodities dealers who ‘actual[ly] deliver[]’ the commodities to customers within twenty-eight days.” The district court agreed, and dismissed the action.

    On appeal, the 9th Circuit concluded the district court erred in dismissing the CFTC’s claims, holding that the CFTC had the authority under Section 6(c)(1) of the CEA to take action against the entity for fraudulently deceptive activity. Specifically, the appellate court held that the CFTC could bring an action for “fraudulently deceptive activity, regardless of whether it was also manipulative,” concluding the district court erred when it interpreted the use of the word “or” in the CEA’s prohibition of the use of “any manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance” to mean “and.” Moreover, the appellate court rejected the platform’s “actual delivery” argument, concluding that the platform’s practice of storing the goods in depositories,  and “maintain[ing] total control over accounts,” with the ability to liquidate at any time, amounts to “sham delivery, not actual delivery.” The appellate court looked to the legislative history of Dodd-Frank and observed that, “[i]f Congress wanted only to ensure enough inventory it could have said so. It did not; it required ‘actual delivery,’” which would require some “meaningful degree of possession or control by the customer.”

    Courts Appellate Ninth Circuit CFTC Enforcement Dodd-Frank Commodity Exchange Act Fraud

    Share page with AddThis

Pages