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Trading  | April 25, 2018

It’s no wonder Andre Flotron has such a big smile on his face…

As we detailed previously, following news coverage of the charging of five precious metals traders and three banks in January, Commodities Futures Trading Commission and Department of Justice documents reveal a global criminal cabal of 16 traders operating in at least four major financial institutions between 2008 and 2015 to defraud COMEX gold and silver futures markets.

Of the many examples published, one reveals a UBS AG precious metals trader known as “The Legend,” spoofed sell orders to push down the price of gold futures on September 6, 2011, the day the gold market attained, and commenced a lengthy retreat, from its historic peak of US $1,923.70.

Flotron, a Swiss citizen, worked at UBS in Stamford and then in Zurich. He was arrested in 2017 while visiting his girlfriend in New Jersey. As Bloomberg notes, prosecutors say Flotron manipulated markets by placing “trick” buy or sell orders, and quickly canceling them to either shift prices up or down.

He was charged with scheming to engage in the practice with a subordinate, whom he trained to “spoof,” and another trader over a period of about five years starting in 2008. Economic turmoil at the time led to historic rallies in the prices of precious metals, especially gold.

Witnesses for the government included the former trainee, Mike Chan, 35, who testified that he learned Flotron’s methods while the two were working at the Swiss bank’s Stamford, Connecticut, office in 2008. Chan said he sat next to Flotron and learned to spoof by watching over his shoulder.

Chan then took those skills and applied them when he was transferred to the bank’s Singapore office, where he engaged in a separate conspiracy with a former trader for Deutsche Bank AG.

So having got that background out of the way, the big news of the day is…

Bloomberg reports that Andre Flotron was found not guilty of scheming to manipulate futures markets through a practice known as spoofing.

Andre Flotron, 54, was cleared of wrongdoing by a federal jury in New Haven, Connecticut, on Wednesday of a single count of conspiracy to engage in commodities fraud.

Bloomberg reports that Flotron’s defense attorney Marc Mukasey said in closing arguments that the government’s case was “prosecution by statistics” through charts and graphs and relied on testimony from two former traders who cooperated in exchange for agreements that they wouldn’t be prosecuted, and couldn’t be trusted.

“You can’t take their word for anything,” Mukasey said, noting that neither cooperator told jurors they explicitly agreed to spoof with Flotron. The practice entailed placing and quickly canceling orders to shift prices up or down.

“They’ve got a motive to tell the story the government wants.”

He could have faced as long as 25 years in prison if convicted, but now he is free to go back to not-spoofing precious metals markets.

“We’re extremely pleased with the jury’s verdict,”  Mukasey said.

“Justice has been done.”

Nope – nothing to see here, move along average joes.

A revolutionary initiative is helping average Americans find quick and lasting stock market success.

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