Joel Rosenblatt and Bob Van Voris
Oct 28, 2010
HSBC Holdings Plc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. were accused in an investor’s lawsuit of placing “spoof” trading orders to manipulate silver futures and options prices in violation of U.S. antitrust law.
The investor, Peter Laskaris, alleges that starting in March 2008, the banks colluded to suppress silver futures so that call options, or the right to buy, would decline, and put options for the right to sell would increase, according to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan. The collusion was also intended to maintain prices at levels at which some options would expire as worthless, Laskaris claims.
The banks placed so-called spoof trading orders, or the “submission of a large order which is not executed but influences prices and is then withdrawn before it reasonably can be executed,” according to the complaint.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission began probing allegations of price manipulation in the silver futures market in September 2008. At a hearing in Washington on Oct. 27, CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said there have been “fraudulent efforts to persuade and deviously control” silver prices and that violators should be prosecuted.