Navinder Sarao, arrested by British police on a U.S. warrant last
April, has been indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury on 22 criminal
counts including wire fraud, commodities fraud and attempted price
manipulation. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Mark Summers, for the United States, said Sarao had used modified
computer software to "spoof" the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME)
market by placing buy or sell orders that were modified millions of
times and then canceled before they could be executed.
Having manipulated the market, he then placed genuine orders making
a large profit in the process.
Summers said it was the United States' case that Sarao's actions had
helped cause market instability which spread from the CME, leading
to the flash crash on May 6, 2010 when the Dow Jones Industrial
Average briefly plunged more than 1,000 points, temporarily wiping
out nearly $1 trillion in market value.
"The government alleges that the defendant on this day was heavily
engaged in his spoofing activities," Summers told Westminster
Magistrates Court in London at the start of Sarao's two-day
"He was, through that activity, contributing to that market
imbalance," he added. "Along with other factors that were happening
on that day, that market imbalance contributed to the flash crash."
If Sarao is extradited and convicted, the maximum U.S. sentences for
the charges of which he is accused amount to more than 350 years in
"GETTING HIT ON THE SPOOFS"
Summers said the Briton, running a one-man operation, Nav Sarao
Futures Ltd from his parents' home near Heathrow Airport in west
London, had used his specially adapted software to keep his trades
from being executed by modifying or cancelling them.
"If I'm short I want to spoof it down," Sarao wrote in an email to
the computer programmer.
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Summers told the court that on May 4, 2010, Sarao had placed orders
which were modified 7.4 million times, accounting for 42 percent of
all modifications on the CME that day.
But the system was not foolproof and he had complained that some of
his orders were being executed. In another email to the programmer,
he said he was "getting hit on his spoofs and it was costing him too
much money," Summers said.
On the day of the flash crash, however, he made $878,000 while his
biggest single day's profit from alleged spoofing came on Aug. 4,
2011 when he made $4 million.
"Overall he made some $40 million by spoofing ... the market from
his home ... in London," Summers said.
In court papers, Sarao's lawyers argue the orders he placed were
genuine and that because his conduct was not criminal in Britain, he
should not be extradited.
If the judge approves extradition, the decision must be ratified by
Britain's interior minister Theresa May, and his lawyer said it was
very likely Sarao would appeal.
(Editing by Catherine Evans)
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