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For all those who believed that it was only JP Morgan who is manipulating the Brent-WTI spread, we regretfully have to inform you that the squid is once again front and center, having now been caught red-handed by none other than the ICE exchange, aka the home of Brent trading. From a just disclosed complaint: "On 28 January 2011 the Exchange’s monitoring detected six notable “price spikes” in the April11 Brent/WTI spread, between 14:26 hours and 14:31 hours UK time.
These were investigated and found to be the result of a limit order and several large market orders placed in quick succession by a GSF trader...In relation to the events described above, the Exchange alleged that GSF had breached the following Rule: "It shall be an offence for a trader or Member to engage in disorderly trading whether by high or low ticking, aggressive bidding or offering, or otherwise." The Exchange recommended to the Committee that summary disciplinary proceedings be commenced in regard to the above mentioned allegations. The Committee subsequently considered the matter in accordance with Summary Enforcement Rule E.7...The Committee considered the behaviour of GSF and its client to be a clear case of disorderly trading, in that the distorting price impact of the placement of such large orders in close proximity was not considered." But don't worry: the ICE naturally had to sugar coat its findings: "Having examined the instant messenger logs of the communication between the GSF trader and their client, the Committee found no evidence of intentional manipulation of the market; nevertheless it considered the breach to be of a serious nature." Well, thank god that all market manipulation occurs via perpetually recorded instant messaging. It would be inconceivable that Goldman and its "client" may have found a different way to hatch plans to defraud investors than one which involves on the record messages.. Simply inconceivable... And preposterous.
Bottom line: the fine for Goldman Sachs: £25,000