A Rumson commodities trader who owned and managed a Red Bank firm was sentenced to three years in federal prison last month for market manipulation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Friday.
Michael Coscia, owner of Panther Energy Trading, was convicted in Chicago last November in the first-ever federal prosecution for “spoofing” under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the FBI said.
From the FBI press release:
His scheme—a variation of the “pump and dump” schemes that have been around since trading began—involved placing large-volume orders that he intended to cancel before they could be filled by other traders, thus creating a false impression about the number of contracts available in the market. Other market participants would react to this deceptive market information and try to interact with the orders, pushing prices up or down, but the orders would disappear (yanked by Coscia’s trading program). At the same time, Coscia was able to purchase contracts at prices lower than, or sell contracts at higher prices, than the prices available in the market before he entered his large-volume orders.
Coscia’s scheme was eventually uncovered by the various exchange groups and regulators, and in July 2013, the CFTC ordered Coscia to return the $1.4 million in illegal proceeds he had obtained and to pay an additional $1.4 million civil penalty on top of that.
But it was about to get even worse for the trader. The FBI’s Chicago Field Office, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office Securities and Commodities Fraud Section in Chicago and with the assistance of the futures exchanges, opened an investigation into his activities. After analyzing Coscia’s trading records and interviewing his computer programmer, victims—which included representatives from other trading houses—and other individuals, Coscia was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2014 on six counts of spoofing and six counts of commodities fraud. In November 2015, on the heels of a trial that lasted a little more than a week, Coscia was convicted on all 12 charges by a jury that came to its decision in about an hour.
A directory listed Panther as located at 54 Broad Street.