Bloomberg News

CFTC Says Probe of Silver Market Analyzed 100,000 Documents

November 07, 2011

(Updates with silver prices in eighth paragraph.)

Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- A multiyear investigation into the possibility of unlawful acts in the silver market is continuing after regulators analyzed more than 100,000 documents, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said.

“In September of 2008, the commission announced the existence of an enforcement investigation into the possibility of unlawful acts in silver markets,” the CFTC said today in a statement on its website. “Since that time, the staff has analyzed over 100,000 documents and interviewed dozens of witnesses and obtained expert advice. It has been a long, detailed and thorough investigation, and it continues in an appropriate and considered manner.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and HSBC Holdings PLC were sued in October 2010 by investors, including Peter Laskaris, who alleged that starting in March 2008, the banks manipulated silver in futures and options, partly by placing so-called spoof trading orders.

The banks reduced their collusive trading and their holdings in futures market after a government investigation began in March 2008, according to the complaint by Laskaris, a New York resident.

In September, investors said in a consolidated class-action complaint that they had signed a tolling agreement with HSBC and weren’t naming the bank as a defendant.

Tolling agreements are often used to stop statutes of limitation from running while the parties discuss settlement or dismissal of a claim.

Today, New York-based JPMorgan declined to comment.

Silver futures for December delivery fell 1.2 percent to close at $34.084 an ounce at 1:45 p.m. on the Comex in New York. The price has climbed 12 percent this year after soaring 84 percent in 2010.

In 2008, the metal declined 24 percent, snapping a seven- year rally.

On Oct. 26, 2010, CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said at a hearing in Washington that there have been “repeated attempts” to influence silver prices and “any such violation of the law in this regard should be prosecuted.”

--With assistance from Bob Van Voris and Asjylyn Loder in New York and Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco. Editors: Patrick McKiernan, Steve Stroth

To contact the reporters for this story: Debarati Roy in New York at droy5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net


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