A trio of U.S. precious metals traders is facing charges in connection with an alleged long-running market manipulation scheme.
Two current traders with JP Morgan in New York and one former trader were charged on Monday for their roles in the alleged scheme, which ran for more than eight years, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.
The three traders named in an indictment released Monday are Gregg Smith, executive director and trader; Michael Nowak, managing director; and Christopher Jordan, who was also an executive director and trader on the bank’s precious metals desk between 2006 and 2009.
All three are charged with one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of bank fraud and one count of wire fraud. Smith and Nowak also were each charged with one count of attempted price manipulation, one count of commodities fraud and one count of spoofing.
The allegations have not been proven.
According to the indictment, between May 2008 and August 2016, the defendants “engaged in widespread spoofing, market manipulation and fraud” by placing deceptive orders in gold, silver, platinum and palladium futures contracts traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange Inc. (NYMEX) and Commodity Exchange Inc. (COMEX).
“The defendants and others allegedly engaged in a massive, multiyear scheme to manipulate the market for precious metals futures contracts and defraud market participants,” said assistant attorney general, Brian Benczkowski, in announcing the charges.
“Smith, Nowak, Jordan, and their co-conspirators allegedly engaged in a complex scheme to trade precious metals in a way that negatively affected the natural balance of supply-and-demand,” said FBI assistant director in charge, William Sweeney Jr.
“Not only did their alleged behavior affect the markets for precious metals, but also correlated markets and the clients of the bank they represented,” he added.
The indictment also identifies two former precious metals traders, John Edmonds and Christian Trunz, as co-conspirators. In 2018, Edmonds pleaded guilty to one count of commodities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, commodities fraud, price manipulation and spoofing. Last month, Trunz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in spoofing and one count of spoofing.