Securities Industry Commentator by Bill Singer, Esq.

January 17, 2018

Former Head of Barclays New York Foreign Exchange Operation Indicted for Orchestrating Multimillion-Dollar Front-Running Scheme (DOJ Press Release 18-47)
The former head of Barclays Capital Inc.'s (Barclays) New York foreign exchange trading operation, Robert Bogucki, was indicted in the Northern District of California on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and six counts of wire fraud. READ the FULL TEXT INDICTMENT. As set forth in part in the DOJ Press Release:

According to the indictment, in September and October 2011, Bogucki misused information provided to him by HP, which had hired Barclays to execute a foreign exchange transaction related to the planned acquisition of a UK-based company.  Barclays was selected to execute the foreign exchange transaction - which required the sale of 6 billion British pounds worth of options - in September 2011.  The defendant and other Barclays employees assured HP and its employees that they understood the need to keep the planned transaction, which was exceptionally large, and therefore "market-moving," confidential.  Instead, Bogucki and other Barclays employees allegedly used the confidential information they received to manipulate the price of "volatility," a metric that affects the value of foreign exchange options.  During conversations with Bogucki, one Barclays trader stated that he and other traders would "bash the sh*t out of" and "spank the market" to depress the price of volatility.  Other Barclays traders also discussed "hammer[ing] the market lower" in order to decrease the value of the HP's options. 

The indictment alleges that, as part of the scheme, Bogucki made misrepresentations to HP and its employees about Barclays' activities and the state of the options market that concealed the self-serving nature of Barclays' actions.  Specifically, the indictment alleges that Bogucki directed options trading in a way that was designed to depress the price of volatility, to the benefit of Barclays and at HP's expense.

FINRA Fines Firm When Unregistered Principal Acted Presidential ( Blog) would seem a fairly basic premise of FINRA regulation that you can't act as the President of a broker-dealer unless you're registered as a principal. Of course, stuff happens and, you know, sometimes a member firm didn't realize that someone was taking on a senior role requiring principal registration, and, other times, someone thought that the guy was registered or that they put the gal's U4 through but, oh well, our bad. In a recent FINRA regulatory settlement, the self-regulator goes about its business in exemplary manner and I've got nothing to say in defense of the respondent firm. Clearly, not the crime of the century and FINRA's moderate sanctions underscore that point. On the other hand, what the hell is with the Corrective Action Statement? Why not just take your lumps quietly, pay the fine, and get on with your business? 

In the Matter of Guardian 8 Holdings, Idaho North Resources Corporation, Mecklermedia Corporation, and Verde Science, Inc.(Order Denying Stay, Securities and Exchange Commission, Admin. Proc. Rul. Rel.No. 5465; Admin, Proc, File No. 3-18221 / January 16, 2018) As ordered by Administrative Law Judge Patil (and in succinct and compelling fashion):

An individual claiming to be a "major shareholder" of Mecklermedia Corporation has emailed my office requesting "6 months to update filings" so that another entity can purchase Mecklermedia. I have caused a copy of the email chain to be filed with the Office of the Secretary.

Construing the emails as a motion for a stay or extension of time, I DENY the shareholder's request. Shareholders may not participate in administrative proceedings on behalf of corporations, such as Mecklermedia. Corporations may be represented before the hearing officer only by an attorney or "a bona fide officer" of the corporation. 17 C.F.R. § 201.102(b).

As a reminder, motions and all other submissions should be properly filed with the Secretary and served on all parties. See 17 C.F.R. §§ 201.150-.153. Direct correspondence to my office on substantive matters-especially when all of the parties are not copied-is improper absent exigent circumstances.