Three former JPMorgan Chase & Co employees face a U.S. federal trial in Chicago on Friday. The three traders were accused that they helped turn their trading desk into a criminal enterprise that faked precious metals futures orders to manipulate prices.
The bank’s former global precious metals desk head Michael Nowak, precious metals trader Gregg Smith and salesperson Jeffrey Ruffo are charged with racketeering and conspiracy in the U.S. Justice Department’s most aggressive case to date targeting the manipulative trading tactic known as spoofing.
The tactic involves placing and then quickly canceling buy or sell orders to falsely create the impression of high demand or supply. The three men are accused of using the tactic to manipulate futures on metals such as gold, silver, platinum and palladium between 2008 and 2016.
In addition to racketeering and conspiracy, Nowak faces 13 other charges including fraud, spoofing and attempted market manipulation, and Smith faces 11 additional charges.
Christopher Jordan, a trader who left JPMorgan in 2009, has also been charged and will be tried separately.
The trial before a jury is expected to take around five weeks. Prosecutors are expected to call three former traders as cooperating witnesses, all of whom have separately pleaded guilty to related charges. Alleged victims of the scheme may also take the stand, according to court papers.
Commodities manipulation and in particular spoofing have become a major focus of the Justice Department. This has brought several other cases in recent years, including against NatWest and former traders at Deutsche Bank and UBS.