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Citi to pay USD 25 million for spoofing in US Treasury futures markets

First Published 19th January 2017

Five traders at Citigroup Global Markets placed more than 2,500 orders with the intent to cancel before execution over an eighteen month period.

Altan Goelman, CFTC

Altan Goelman, CFTC

Washington, DC - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has issued an Order filing and settling charges against Citigroup Global Markets for spoofing in U.S. Treasury futures markets and for failing to diligently supervise the activities of its employees and agents in conjunction with the spoofing orders.

Five Citgroup traders (who worked on either its U.S. Treasury or U.S. Swaps desks), engaged in spoofing more than 2,500 times in various Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) U.S. Treasury futures products during the Relevant Period.

Their spoofing strategy involved placing bids or offers of 1,000 lots or more with the intent to cancel those orders before execution.

The spoofing orders were placed in the U.S. Treasury futures markets after another smaller bid or offer was placed on the opposite side of the same or a correlated futures or cash market, the Order finds.

The traders placed their spoofing orders to create or exacerbate an imbalance in the order book and cancelled their spoofing orders after either the smaller resting orders had been filled or the traders believed that the spoofing orders were at too great a risk of being executed, the Order finds.

In addition to executing the spoofing strategy individually, according to the Order, on at least one occasion, some of Citigroup's traders coordinated with each other to implement the spoofing strategy, by placing one or more spoofing orders after another trader had placed one or more smaller resting orders in the same or a correlated futures or cash market.

The Order requires Citigroup to pay a $25 million civil monetary penalty and to cease and desist from violating the Commodity Exchange Act's (Act's) prohibition against spoofing and the CFTC regulation governing diligent supervision. The Order also requires Citigroup to comply with undertakings, including providing annual training addressing the Act's legal requirements with regard to spoofing to its employees who submit orders on U.S. futures markets and their supervisors and maintaining systems and controls reasonably designed to detect spoofing activity by its traders.

CFTC Director of Enforcement Aitan Goelman commented: "Spoofing is a significant threat to market integrity that the CFTC will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute. Additionally, as this action shows, registrants with supervisory responsibilities must provide their employees with sufficient training and have in place adequate systems and controls to detect spoofing. Failure to do so will have significant consequences."

The Order also finds several supervision failures related to Citigroup's spoofing.

First, Citigroup provided insufficient training about spoofing to traders on its U.S. Treasury and U.S. Swaps desk.

Second, Citigroup did not have adequate systems and controls in place to detect spoofing by traders on its U.S. Treasury and U.S. Swaps desks.

Third, the Order notes that even when alerted to a spoofing incident involving one of its traders, a supervisor and other members on the U.S. Treasury desk failed to comply with Citigroup's then-existing policies regarding reporting violations of the Act.