Former UBS Trader Is Cleared in ‘Spoofing’ Case


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A former trader for the Swiss bank UBS, Andre Flotron, was prosecuted on charges related to market manipulation and a practice called “spoofing,” which the Justice Department has been trying to rein in.

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Michele Limina/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A federal jury on Wednesday acquitted a former trader for the Swiss bank UBS of charges related to market manipulation, dealing a blow to a Justice Department effort to crack down on a Wall Street practice known as “spoofing.”

Prosecutors accused the former trader, Andre Flotron, of trying to move market prices for precious metals by making offers on electronic trading systems to buy or sell gold, silver and other financial products and then quickly deleting those offers before anyone could accept them.

But after only a few hours of deliberation, a jury in United States District Court in the District of Connecticut rejected their theory, according to Mr. Flotron’s lawyer Marc L. Mukasey.

Mr. Flotron’s acquittal could spell trouble for similar cases brought by the United States government. In January, federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against seven other people for spoofing, among the first criminal charges brought for suspected financial crimes during the Trump administration. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission simultaneously brought civil cases against a number of the former traders, including Mr. Flotron. The traders’ behavior, a Justice Department official said at the time, reflected “a systemic problem.”

The Connecticut jury decided otherwise.

“It’s a huge setback for the government,” Mr. Mukasey said. “We basically smacked them in the face.”

Mr. Mukasey said he planned to ask the trading commission to dismiss its civil case against Mr. Flotron.

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Celebrating Long Shots and Outcasts


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 “I’m just figuring we don’t have a chance,” Rory Kennedy said.Credit Danny Moloshok/Reuters

Updated, 5:39 p.m. | WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Rory Kennedy was fully expecting not to go home with the Oscar for best documentary feature on Sunday, yet nonetheless she was in high spirits Friday, at a sun-dappled lunch in the courtyard of the famous, and infamous, Chateau Marmont hotel.

“I’m a documentary filmmaker,” she said to the several dozen attendees, “This” – she waved to the white-linen-draped tables topped with carefully wrought small bouquets – “is not something we’re used to.”

Ms. Kennedy’s “Last Days in Vietnam” tells the wrenching tale of the hundreds of Vietnamese promised sanctuary then abandoned by Americans as Saigon fell: the last helicopters left the roof of the American Embassy without them.

Distributed by American Experience Films/PBS, it’s a very long shot for the documentary Oscar – “I’m just figuring we don’t have a chance,” Ms. Kennedy said merrily – and didn’t have bank that backed other campaigns, like that of “Citizenfour,” distributed by Radius, a unit of the Weinstein Company. Indeed, during luncheon chitchat, Ms. Kennedy seemed more concerned with the seven feet of snow paralyzing Boston. She did add, wryly, that during the Oscar ceremony, she would probably be the one wanting to be helicoptered away.

The luncheon, held by Dom Perignon, drew a grab bag of guests: Julian Sands, Cheryl Hines, Nicky Hilton, Peter Fonda, Maria Shriver, Minnie Driver and Andre Balazs, the hotelier behind the Chateau Marmont. The Bagger was seated by “American Experience’s” executive producer Mark Samels, who was among the many Northeasterners happy to be in town and escaping the frigidity home.

The Bagger shared another point of solidarity with him: he hadn’t been invited to Vanity Fair’s ballyhooed Oscar afterparty either. Viva los outcasts!

Correction: Feb. 21, 2015
An earlier version of this post misstated Andre Balazs’s role in the luncheon. He was a guest, not the host. The host was Dom Perignon.