• With the country seemingly having survived its most recent Presidential impeachment process, what is not commonly appreciated is the outsized role that Presidents involved directly or indirectly in impeachment proceedings have had on commodities regulation. 

  •  On August 16, 2019, the defendants filed an emergency motion seeking to hold the CFTC in civil contempt for violating the terms of the Consent Order by issuing the statements by the Commission and Commissioners Benham and Berkovitz.  These statements have since been pulled down from the CFTC’s website.  Continuing further down this unprecedented path, the Court held a hearing on August 19, 2019, and ordered Chairman Tarbert, Commissioner Benham and Commissioner Berkovitz, to testify at an evidentiary hearing on September 12, 2019.  Stay tuned to further updates on www.commodity-corner.com.

     

  • On August 15, 2019, the CFTC announced that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered a Consent Order which settles the CFTC’s claims against Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (“Kraft”) and Mondelēz Global LLC (“Mondelēz”) for manipulating and attempting to manipulate the prices of cash wheat and wheat futures, violating speculative position limits, and engaging in noncompetitive trades in CBOT wheat.  The Consent Order imposed a civil monetary penalty in the amount of $16 million against Kraft and Mondelēz, which was described as approximately three times the amount of the alleged gain of the defendants.  This settlement is unusual due to the absence of findings of fact and conclusions of law in the Consent Order, and restrictions to further comment on the parties beyond publicly filed information.    

  • “A two-letter conjunction and a two-word phrase decide this case.  At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars.”

  • On May 8, 2019, the Division of Enforcement made public its first-ever Enforcement Manual.  The Enforcement Manual addresses the various stages of the Division’s investigations and litigations.  While much of the Enforcement Manual is rooted from the Commission’s Regulations and still leaves much discretion to Division Staff, its deputies and director, it does shed some light into the Division’s processes and policies.  Although the Enforcement Manual does not create any private rights, is not enforceable in court, and is not binding law, it will likely be a useful reference tool for engaging in dialogue with Division Staff during various points of the Division’s investigations and litigations.    

  • On April 18, 2019, Eric Powers of Kern County, California, entered into a consent order with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for acting as an unregistered money transmitter.  FinCEN determined that Powers’ purchase and sale of Bitcoin for U.S. Dollars in over 1,700 “peer-to-peer” transactions from 2012 through 2014 made him an “exchanger” of convertible virtual currency.

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