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Episode 220 — DOJ NatWest Markets Fraud Spoofing Enforcement Action

The Department of Justice secured a guilty plea from NatWest Markets, the newly-named Royal Bank of Scotland, for trade manipulation, referred to as “spoofing,” in U.S. Treasury markets. The NatWest resolution reflected new changes in DOJ’s white collar enforcement policies, including acknowledgement and consideration of NatWest’s prior misconduct (criminal and civil) and appointment of an independent compliance monitor. NatWest was not offered a deferred or non-prosecution agreement; instead it was required to plead guilty to a criminal charge of securities fraud and another charge of wire fraud.

Under the plea agreement, NatWest agreed that during the period of 2008 to 2014, traders in its Stamford and London offices spoofed the market for Treasury futures contracts. In addition, two traders at NatWest’s Singapore branch spoofed the secondary cash market for Treasury securities in 2018. The spoofing scheme violated a 2017 non-prosecution agreement between the United States and NatWest’s broker-dealer subsidiary, and occurred while NatWest was on probation for a separate conviction for manipulation of the foreign currency exchange market.

DOJ cited NatWest’s status as a repeat offenders as justification for requiring a criminal guilty plea to two counts. Under the plea agreement, NatWest Markets will pay $35 million in restitution, forfeiture and a criminal fine, serve three years’ probation and take on an independent compliance monitor.

In this Episode, Michael Volkov reviews the NatWest prosecution and settlement agreement.

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