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April 17, 2020

Better Markets, AFREF Urge SCOTUS to Review Second Circuit’s Flawed Decision on Market Manipulation

Friday, April 17, 2020
Contact:  Pamela Russell, 202-618-6433
Washington, D.C.  –  Stephen W. Hall, Legal Director and Securities Specialist for Better Markets, issued the following statement about the amicus brief filed today in the U.S. Supreme Court by Better Markets and the Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund (“AFREF”) in Atlantic Trading USA LLC v. BP P.L.C.:
“Today, Better Markets and AFREF filed a joint friend-of-the-court or “amicus curiae” brief urging the Supreme Court to review a Second Circuit decision that blows a huge hole in the law aimed at holding market manipulators accountable. 
“Americans depend on reasonable and stable prices for almost every product they use in their everyday lives, from gasoline to groceries. Fair and transparent U.S. futures markets have long played an essential role in making that possible by allowing farmers, manufacturers, and even financial managers to protect themselves from up and down swings in commodity prices. When bad actors manipulate those markets to score illegal profits, as alleged in the Atlantic Trading case, everyone suffers—countless businesses, consumers, and even speculators who provide the liquidity necessary to keep those markets running smoothly.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the U.S. law aimed at stomping out such market manipulation didn’t apply because the scheme was carried out predominantly overseas—even though the manipulators’ goal and effect was to distort prices on U.S. commodity exchanges. The plaintiffs who were harmed, now the “Petitioners,” are asking the Supreme Court to take the case so it can reverse that decision.
“We weighed in because the stakes are so high. The Second Circuit’s decision is not only wrong on the law, it essentially invites bad actors to use American commodity markets as their criminal playground, provided they run their operations from outside the United States. That in turn threatens to undermine the integrity of U.S. futures markets, hurt the countless businesses that rely on them as hedging and price discovery tools, and ultimately to burden millions of American consumers unwittingly forced to pay more for the essential goods they need.
“We were pleased to join with AFREF on the brief, as our combined voices add credibility and weight to our arguments.  We’ll watch closely to see if the Court accepts the case, and if it does, we anticipate filing an amicus brief on the merits.”
For more information, see Better Markets’ fact sheet on the filing.
Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit
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