Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: Anti-Spoofing, Dodd-Frank, Corruption

by HB Whistleblower Legal Team

05/14/2018

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Anti-Spoofing Law Survives as U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Trader

The U.S. Supreme Court turned away an appeal from the first commodities trader convicted of spoofing since Congress made it a crime, rejecting arguments that the 2010 ban is so vague it should be overturned.

The justices, without comment Monday, left intact a three-year prison sentence imposed on Michael Coscia, the former principal of Panther Energy Trading.

Spoofing typically involves systematically placing orders without intending to execute them to trick the market into thinking there’s interest in buying or selling. Congress outlawed spoofing in the commodity futures markets as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

Coscia’s appeal called the law’s definition of spoofing "hopelessly vague." There is "nothing in the statute to tell market participants what line separates commonplace trading activity from the newly minted federal felony of ‘spoofing,'" Coscia’s lawyers argued. 

Prosecutors said Coscia conducted thousands of spoofing-related trades, earning $1.4 million. At trial, prosecutors focused on transactions in the gold, euro, soybean meal, soybean oil, British pound, and copper futures markets. read more »

Malaysia Sidelines Officials Accused of Ignoring Graft

Malaysian officials accused of covering up a large corruption scandal stepped down or were placed on leave Monday as Malaysia’s leadership continued to be upended by the defeat of the governing coalition last week.

Mahathir Mohamad, the new prime minister, said Monday afternoon that the attorney general, Mohamed Apandi Ali, had been placed on leave.

Mr. Apandi, who was named attorney general three years ago, cleared the previous prime minister, Najib Razak, of any wrongdoing in connection with the misappropriation of billions of dollars from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a government fund known as 1MDB.

He was among the most prominent officials supporting Mr. Najib’s assertion of innocence, and he may now face an investigation for what critics contend was a cover-up.

Mr. Apandi showed up for work on Monday even though Mr. Mahathir said last week that the attorney general had been removed from office. He acknowledged in a text message that he had gone to work but declined to comment on his situation.

Mohammad Irwan Serigar bin Abdullah, secretary general of the Malaysian Treasury and chairman of 1MDB, was also relieved of his duties on Monday. read more »

Sheldon Silver Is Convicted in 2nd Corruption Trial

Sheldon Silver, the former powerful Democratic speaker of the New York State Assembly, was found guilty of federal corruption charges on Friday, less than a year after his first conviction on the same charges was thrown out.

During his two-week trial in Manhattan, prosecutors showed that Mr. Silver, 74, had obtained nearly $4 million in illicit payments in return for taking a series of official actions that benefited a cancer researcher at Columbia University and two real estate developers in New York.

Mr. Silver served more than two decades as the Assembly speaker, and along with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Dean G. Skelos, the former Republican State Senate majority leader, became known as one of New York’s “three men in a room” who controlled decision making in Albany.

Both Mr. Silver and Mr. Skelos forfeited their seats in late 2015 after each was convicted in separate corruption trials. But both men’s convictions were overturned last year.

Mr. Skelos is to be retried in June. That same month, another Albany-related corruption trial will begin against Alain E. Kaloyeros, the former president of the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute. That case involves bid-rigging allegations in Mr. Cuomo’s signature upstate economic development plan, the so-called Buffalo Billion.

The following month, the government will retry Norman Seabrook, the former head of the New York City correction officers’ union, whose corruption case ended in a mistrial in November after the jury was unable to reach a verdict. read more »

Shell, Eni trial on Nigeria corruption re-adjourned to June

The trial of top executives from oil majors Eni and Shell over alleged corruption in Nigeria kicked off on Monday with a brief procedural hearing and a decision to re-adjourn next month.

At the next hearing, set for June 20, the Milan court said it would assess requests from third parties, including a series of international non-profit organizations, to join the case.

At Monday’s hearing Domenico Cartoni Schittar, a lawyer representing the Nigerian government, said he was stepping down from his role.

In comments in a signed document seen by Reuters, Cartoni Schittar said he had given up on a mandate which he said had become “awkward”.

The long-running graft case revolves around the 2011 purchase by Eni and Shell of Nigeria’s OPL-245 offshore oilfield for about $1.3 billion.

Milan prosecutors allege bribes were paid to win the license to explore an oil block that holds an estimated 9 billion barrels of oil but which has never entered into production. read more »