||Louis Dreyfus sued by trader over cotton squeeze; entered at 2012-07-03 09:10:21 |
Commodity trading giant Louis Dreyfus Commodities BV has been sued by a former senior trader at rival Glencore, who alleges that Dreyfus illegally cornered the cotton market last year as prices tumbled from record highs.
In one of the highest-profile commodity market-manipulation lawsuits in more than a decade, the trader, Mark Allen, accused Dreyfus of violating antitrust law by artificially inflating prices of IntercontinentalExchange cotton futures contracts expiring in May 2011 and July 2011.
Other defendants in the case include Dreyfus's Allenberg Cotton and Term Commodities units, and several individuals including Allenberg's chief executive, Joseph Nicosia, collectively considered the biggest cotton traders in the world.
The "defendants' price control over the May 2011 contract and the July 2011 contract reflects monopoly power and collusion," according to the complaint filed Friday afternoon in the U.S. district court in Manhattan by Allen, who lost his job as the top cotton trader at Glencore last November after the trading firm lost more than $300 million in the market.
The lawsuit is a response to the upheaval in the cotton market last year, when prices in March reached their highest level since the U.S. Civil War in 1860S and then more than halved by July. In that period, Dreyfus affiliates took delivery of most ICE cotton futures contracts at expiration, exchange data showed.
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is under pressure to crack down on malfeasance, has already opened a probe into the trading, its second in three years. The CFTC investigated a surge in cotton prices prior to the 2008 financial crisis, but found no evidence of manipulation...
Manipulation lawsuits are unusual among traders, and regulators rarely bring them because they can be hard to prove.