Recent CFTC Settlement with Former Moore Capital Trader Illustrates a Number of Best Compliance Practices for Hedge Fund Managers that Trade Commodity Futures Contracts

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) recently entered an order (Order) settling charges that former Moore Capital trader Christopher Louis Pia attempted to manipulate the settlement prices of palladium and platinum futures contracts by “banging the close.”  Specifically, the CFTC alleged that Pia caused market-on-close (MOC) buy orders to be entered in the last ten seconds of the closing periods for both types of contracts in an effort to exert upward pressure on the settlement prices for the contracts.  The Order has attracted considerable attention for various reasons, including the prominence of Moore Capital, the obscure allure of the metals at issue and the Wall Street Journal’s report that Pia “tooled around town in an orange Lamborghini.”  But less attention has been paid to the more important implications of the Order for the hedge fund industry.  Those implications fall into two general categories, one of which focuses on best compliance practices for hedge fund managers that trade commodity futures contracts.  This article discusses the factual allegations and legal analysis in the Order, then outlines some of the more noteworthy implications of the Order for hedge fund managers focused on commodities.  See also “CFTC and SEC Propose Rules to Further Define the Term ‘Eligible Contract Participant’:  Why Should Commodity Pool and Hedge Fund Managers Care?,” Hedge Fund Law Report, Vol. 4, No. 21 (Jun. 23, 2011).

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