A rise in market manipulation and spoofing cases helped drive an increase in enforcement activity by U.S. derivatives regulators last year.
According to the latest annual report from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) division of enforcement, the regulator awarded US$1.3 billion in fines, restitution and disgorgement in fiscal 2019 (ending Sept. 30), up 39% from the previous year.
The volume of enforcement activity was also slightly elevated. The CFTC brought a total of 69 new cases during the year, ahead of its five-year average of 67.5 cases per year.
Approximately two thirds (65%) of those cases involved charges of commodities fraud, market manipulation or spoofing, the CFTC reported, noting that these are the kinds of violations that “strike at the heart of market integrity and harm market participants.”
Along with the regulatory action, the CFTC reported that it also filed a record number of cases in 2019 that involved parallel criminal proceedings.
“The breadth and significance of the enforcement activity in [fiscal] 2019 is reflected in the fact that the filed cases involved some of the most significant commodities fraud, manipulation, and spoofing cases in the history of the agency,” CFTC director of enforcement James McDonald said in a statement.
The report also indicated that the CFTC received 117 claims under its whistleblower program in 2019 and issued five awards, totalling US$15.4 million, to tipsters. In total, the CFTC has paid over US$100 million to whistleblowers since the program’s inception.
CFTC chair Heath Tarbert said that robust regulatory enforcement will continue in the years ahead.
“Tough, but fair – that’s been our response to those who break the rules,” Tarbert said in a statement. “A strong enforcement program is about preserving market integrity, protecting consumers, and deterring misconduct from taking place.”