April 25 (Reuters) - A U.S. jury on Wednesday found a former UBS Group AG senior precious metals trader not guilty of criminal conspiracy over his alleged role in manipulating prices through a process known as “spoofing.”
Jurors in federal court in New Haven, Connecticut, deliberated for about a day before acquitting Andre Flotron, a Swiss citizen, in the second U.S. criminal trial on spoofing charges.
Flotron was accused of conspiring from July 2008 to November 2013 to place “spoof” orders for precious metal futures contracts that he intended to cancel before they could be executed.
Authorities had accused him of tricking other investors, including algorithmic traders, by creating artificial price movements that enabled him to get better prices on real trades at their expense.
“We respect the jury’s verdict,” a spokesman for U.S. Attorney John Durham in Connecticut said.
A lawyer for Flotron had no immediate comment.
Spoofing was outlawed by the 2010 U.S. Dodd-Frank financial reforms.
Michael Coscia, who owned Panther Energy Trading LLC in New Jersey, was the first person tried in the United States for spoofing, and sentenced to three years in prison after his 2015 conviction.
Prosecutors built the Flotron case with help from a UBS trader who said Flotron taught him how to place spoof orders.
Flotron began trading metals at UBS in 1999, and was put on leave in early 2014 after working for the bank in Zurich and Stamford, Connecticut.
UBS was not accused of wrongdoing.
In May 2015, the Swiss bank pleaded guilty to manipulating Libor and other benchmark interest rates in a settlement in which the U.S. Justice Department immunized UBS from possible criminal prosecution over metals price-rigging.
The case is U.S. v. Flotron, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, No. 17-cr-00220. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)